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1 fun thing: Lunch with Meekins

Jan 24, 2023
Chris Meekins sits at lunch

Photo: Caitlin Owens/Axios

We're back with another fun interview for you! Today’s guest is Chris Meekins, managing director at financial services company Raymond James.

  • Meekins previously worked as deputy assistant secretary and chief of staff to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS. Before that, he spent four years working for Rep. Andy Harris.
  • All of your Axios Pro Health Care Policy contributors joined Meekins for lunch at The Smith. On the menu: a chocolate chip cookie.

Favorite Capitol Hill bar: Tune Inn. All the other dive bars have disappeared!

Which lawmaker has the best office decor? Former Rep. Paul Broun. He had life-size [taxidermy] animals. It was like going to the Natural History Museum.

  • Also a contender: Rep. Tom Cole’s office, because you can smoke cigars.

What health policy hill will you die on? Biotechnology is increasingly becoming a national security issue and it's about five years too late.

Longest night at the office: I was at the office for three days straight. I was at HHS [during the Trump administration’s policy to separate unaccompanied migrant children from their parents].

  • Someone decided to separate them without actually having a plan to put them all back together. That was a very miserable time.
  • That was more than 500 hours in 40 calendar days. One of the places I slept was in a SCIF [sensitive compartmented information facility] because it was really quiet. I just pulled up in one of the SCIFs and curled up on a chair for like two hours so I could be left alone.

Who’s the best health care negotiator? He’s gone now, but Richard Burr. Look at what he did last year and what he accomplished — he basically got his way on the user fees; he got the pandemic bill done the way he wanted.

  • Meekins and Burr have a bit of history: I was at HHS and I was down [in North Carolina] ... It was right at the time the FDA was considering what to do with menthol cigarettes and he was in a fight with the department over it.
  • [Burr] walks straight over in front of these, like, 60 people and grabs me by the jacket and says, “You need to tell the secretary I’m not happy.” (Don't worry, they laughed in the end.)

What field would you be in if you weren’t in health policy? Probably trying to run a minor-league baseball team.

  • If I win the Mega Millions, my wife knows — that’s on my to-do list!

Do you want to be our next guest? Email us!

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