Nov 7 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Cost of care, cash for clunkers, secure housing, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

In a New York Times op-ed, Peter Ubel, MD, examines the need for physicians to incorporate the cost of care into treatment conversations with patients. Ubel is an RWJF Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar and an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient. “[T]he financial burden of paying for medical care can cause more distress in patients’ lives than many medical side effects,” he writes. Read more about Ubel’s views.

In lieu of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett proposes to direct low-income residents to insurance marketplaces to purchase state-subsidized private plans. In a op-ed, David Grande, MD, MPA, discusses whether the plan will cost more than traditional Medicaid. Grande is the associate director of the RWJF Clinical Scholars program and an alumnus of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program.

The Car Allowance Rebate System, better known as Cash for Clunkers, did little to help the environment and was “far more expensive …than alternative fiscal stimulus programs,” according to a new Brookings Institution study co-led by Ted Gayer, an RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus. The research was highlighted on and the Detroit News among other outlets.

Political “scandals” come and go, with little follow-up reporting over the long term, writes the Washington Post's media beat reporter in a piece quoting a study by Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Brendan Nyhan, PhD: “When the political and news environment is unfavorable, scandals may erupt … despite thin evidentiary support. … under more favorable conditions, even well-supported allegations can languish.” Nyhan studied the Post’s coverage of 28 presidential scandals. His study was also cited by NPR.

Damon Centola, PhD, a Scholars in Health Policy Research program alumnus, has designed an online “Name Game” to study how groups of disparate people come to agree, CBS Philly reports. The game gives pairs of players the same picture of a person to name. With each successive round, people begin to agree on names. The study’s conclusions could be applied to problems such as public health improvement, Centola said.

In the Washington Post Wonk Blog Harold Pollack, PhD, MPP, explores how Medicaid patients with severe conditions could reap health benefits from access to secure housing, thus reducing their health care costs. Pollack is an alumnus of the Scholars in Health Policy Research program and an Investigator Award recipient.

Mother Jones
interviewed Seth Holmes, PhD, MD, about his study of migrant farm workers, published in his new book Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies. Holmes, an alumnus of the Health & Society Scholars program, discussed his hands-on approach to the research, which included working in the fields alongside farmworkers. An excerpt from Holmes’ book is available on the Human Capital Blog.

The Houston Chronicle’s Baker Institute Blog Series features a paper co-written by Brigham Frandsen, PhD, exploring Medicare accountable care organizations and the challenges of implementing incentives to control health care costs. Frandsen is a Scholars in Health Policy Research program alumnus.

A New York Times article on expanding gambling in New York state cites the book Addiction by Design by Natasha Dow Schüll, a Health & Society Scholars alumna. The book looks at how the technical wizardry underlying modern slot machines can feed the gambling compulsion. The article compares gambling addiction to drug addiction.  Read an interview with Schüll on the Human Capital Blog.

Researchers at Harvard’s Center for American Political Studies are sorting through thousands of historical anti-slavery petitions, many of them signed by former slaves active in the abolitionist movement, the Boston Globe reports. “The portrait that we’re getting now is of a much broader swath of activities by African Americans,” Director Daniel Carpenter, PhD, told the Globe. In the past, access to these documents was more limited, noted Carpenter, an Investigator Award  recipient and Scholars in Health Policy Research program alumnus.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Nursing, Scholars in Health Policy Research