New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie has named an Indian American doctor, Poonam Alaigh, as the commissioner of the state Health and Senior Services Department, a cabinet post.

Alaigh, 45, has a multifaceted background in health care administration and delivery, including clinical practice, hospital practice, hospital administration, managed care, pharmaceutical medicine, and health care policy.

“It is important we have a qualified team with the attitude and willingness to get to work, make tough decisions and strive for results. These appointments will assure that the status quo isn’t acceptable and the health and education of New Jersey’s citizens will be in the best of hands,” Governor Christies said, announcing Alaigh’s name.

The state Senate has to confirm her appointment. Alaigh said her first priority is to help the governor balance the budget.

Currently director of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, she is also working as an assistant professor in the department of family practice at University of Medicine and Dentistry/Robert Wood Johnson University Medical School.

At Horizon, she is responsible for the major clinical areas. Prior to joining Horizon, she served as national medical director for GlaxoSmithKline and was working with health plans on a number of national issues, including better use of health care technology, the reduction of disparities in health care and health care access to the under and uninsured population.

Horizon is the largest health insurer in the state, which hired Alaigh 10 months ago as its executive medical director for quality and care management.

Alaigh practises medicine at the New Jersey Veterans Administration Hospital in Lyons and is a member of the College of New Jersey Board of Trustees and has served as president of the American Heart Association of North Jersey.