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June 2012 St@teside

Building Research Collaborations with State Health Policymakers

The Affordable Care Act will be implemented in large part by the states. Critical decisions will have to be made - with or without - supporting evidence. For those state legislatures and health agencies without the internal resources and support to provide timely analysis, research, and program evaluations, there may be an opportunity to tap into their own state’s health services researchers and form partnerships.

AcademyHealth’s 2012 Annual Research Meeting brought together a group of state officials and state health policy center leadership to discuss such opportunities. Using California and Maryland as examples, the session examined the benefits and challenges of such partnerships, as well as ways to structure them.

Panelists discussed the challenges of working in two distinct cultures—government and research centers— and how each culture comes with its own internal bureaucracies that must be addressed when forming collaborations. Panelists also touched on the advantages and disadvantages of whether these policy centers are viewed as an extension of a state agency or as independent research centers. Having an independent research center provide analysis on politically charged issues or program evaluations is extremely valuable to state agencies and legislatures who want access to unbiased and nonpartisan evidence.  However, research organizations acting as extensions of a state agency are beneficial because they bring in human and capital resources to states that are currently experiencing limited resources.

The panelists included:

  • Catherine Hoffman (moderator), Deputy Director, California Medicaid Research Institute
  • Michael Nolin, Director, The Hilltop Institute (University of Maryland – Baltimore County)
  • Charles Milligan, Deputy Director, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Andrew Bindman, Director, California Medicaid Research Institute
  • Kim Belshé, Sr. Policy Advisor, Public Policy Institute of California, and member of the California Health Benefit Exchange Board
  • Alan Weil, Executive Director, National Academy for State Health Policy

Presentation slides are available here.