State-Level Health Policy Research

Lessons learned from state insurance market reforms and innovations with Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have informed national policy in the past and can continue to inform the newly passed health reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supports research on state-level policy efforts through its State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE) initiative. This editorial by Brian C. Quinn, RWJF assistant vice president, Research and Evaluation, Health Policy Analysis in Research and Evaluation, in a special supplement of HSR: Health Services Research, provides a framework for subsequent articles by eight SHARE grantees.

In a post-ACA health policy environment, state outcomes continue to be vital sources of information for two key reasons:

  1. Previous state experimentation efforts, such as Massachusetts health reform, demonstrated that reforms can succeed and paved the way for ACA.
  2. The need for state-level policy research will grow as states implement some of the largest and most important elements of ACA. State-level variations can provide evidence of how policy changes work in different settings.

The SHARE projects' research provides an evidence-based resource for other researchers and policy-makers about state-level efforts to expand health insurance coverage.

For a synopsis of the eight "lab reports," see "Harvesting the Lessons of State Health Policy" by SHARE Director Lynn A. Blewett and Andrew Bindman.