Lake Superior Ballroom

This year’s forum features Deputy Secretaries of Health and Human Services (HSS) and Department of Agriculture along with Minnesota legislative leaders interacting with the audience on HHS policies, as they pertain to rural health care. Ample time will be reserved for audience questions, comments, information, and interaction with the panelists.

Senator Jim Abeler

Minnesota Senate

Republican Senator Jim Abeler, from Anoka, Minnesota, served in the House of Representatives from 2000 to 2012. He was elected to the Senate in 2016 serving District 35. He currently chairs the Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee and sits on the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee.

Stephen Censky

Deputy Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Mr. Censky is the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was sworn in on October 11, 2017, after being unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Mr. Censky previously served for the past 21 years as Chief Executive Officer of the American Soybean Association--a national, not-for-profit trade association that represents the U.S. soybean farmers on policy and trade. Mr. Censky began his career working as a legislative assistant for Senator Jim Abdnor (R-SD). Later, he served in both the Reagan and George H. W. Bush Administrations' at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, eventually serving as Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service where he was involved in running our nation’s export programs. Mr. Censky received his B.S. in Agriculture from South Dakota State University and his Postgraduate Diploma in Agriculture Science from the University of Melbourne, Australia. He grew up on a soybean, corn, and diversified livestock farm near Jackson, Minnesota. He and his wife Carmen have two daughters in college.

Eric Hargan

Deputy Secretary
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Eric D. Hargan is the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is dedicated to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the American people, and as the largest department in the federal government, has an annual budget in excess of $1.3 trillion and over 80,000 employees across 26 divisions. As Deputy Secretary, he is the Chief Operating Officer and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and management of the department in addition to leading policy and strategy development.

Mr. Hargan was sworn into office as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on October 6, 2017. He immediately served as Acting Secretary of HHS from October 2017 to January 2018. From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Hargan served at HHS in a variety of capacities, including holding the position of Acting Deputy Secretary. During his tenure at HHS, Mr. Hargan also served as the Department’s Regulatory Policy Officer, where he oversaw the development and approval of all HHS, CMS, and FDA regulations and significant guidances.

He received his B.A. cum laude from Harvard University, and his J.D. from Columbia University Law School, where he was Senior Editor of the Columbia Law Review. In between his tours of duty at HHS, Mr. Hargan taught at Loyola Law School in Chicago, focusing on administrative law and healthcare regulations.

Mr. Hargan was born and raised in Mounds, Illinois, a small town of approximately 800 located in the southern county of Pulaski. He currently lives in Virginia with his wife and their two sons.