Grant Supports Research into Using Medicaid Managed Care to Strengthen Care for Vulnerable Populations

The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) today announced a $344,000 grant from the Commonwealth Fund to examine the role of Medicaid managed care in strengthening primary care for vulnerable populations. Sara Rosenbaum, JD, the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy will lead the investigation. Over the past 20 years, the Commonwealth Fund has provided more than $3 million in support for Rosenbaum’s research.

“Managed care has become the means by which Medicaid creates access to comprehensive primary care, the foundation of the entire health care system,” Rosenbaum said. “As Medicaid has dramatically extended its reach as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansions, managed care has become even more important in extending care to poor and vulnerable populations.”

The new 18-month study, which builds on years of prior Medicaid research, will undertake a deep dive into state Medicaid managed care contracts, the key purchasing agreements between states and managed care organizations that establish detailed and extensive performance expectations. From these contracts, GW analysts, working closely with the Commonwealth Fund, will provide state and federal policymakers, evaluation researchers, and a broader policy readership with the analytic tools they need to understand how managed care is poised to change the reach and quality of primary care for low income and medically underserved populations and communities.

Two decades of support
“The support that the Commonwealth Fund has provided to researchers at the George Washington University over the past two decades has enabled us to investigate and shed light on key public health issues,” said Lynn Goldman, MD, MS, MPH, the Michael and Lori Milken Dean at Milken Institute SPH.

“The Commonwealth Fund has supported some of our school’s most important health policy research focusing on poor and vulnerable populations,” Rosenbaum said. “Their support, for which we are particularly grateful given Commonwealth’s worldwide reputation in health policy, has allowed us to engage in wide-ranging research into Medicaid and health care for the poor at a pivotal time in U.S. health policy.  Commonwealth grants, important at any time, have taken on added significance in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, given its enormous advances in national health policy and the debate over its future which continues today.”

GW’s Commonwealth-funded research has been foundational to its reputation as one of the nation’s leading centers of research into health care for the poor and underserved.  The results of this research have been translated into peer-reviewed articles, highly accessible translational policy briefs and shorter blogs, and extensive teaching materials for generations of law and health policy students educated at GW. Indeed, Rosenbaum pointed out, the first Commonwealth grants coincided with the founding of the School of Public Health and the subsequent establishment of health policy as one of its principal fields of focus.

“We are deeply grateful to the Commonwealth Fund, whose grants have been instrumental not only in the evolution of Medicaid policy but the development of our own program in health policy and the education of thousands of students.  ” Rosenbaum concluded.  “Its support has helped create the evidence on which rest policies that truly make the world a better place.”