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Amitabh Chandra
Faculty Chair

Discovering solutions and providing leadership for unprecedented problems in healthcare is the mission of the Healthcare Policy Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

The program draws on the tremendous expertise of Harvard’s schools— Harvard Medical School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Chan School of Public Health, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences — and leverages the role of Boston as a center of research, medical innovation, and far-sighted public-policy.

The program has three aims:

  1. Research, on access, innovation, and value in healthcare;
  2. Establishing conversations between researchers, government, and industry; and
  3. Preparing future generations of leaders through educational programs.

The Program’s approach is multidisciplinary, engaging people from medicine, law, economics, and the natural sciences, and those with experience in business and government.

    About
    The Challenge

    A combination of factors - from the growing number of elderly Americans, expanding government spending on healthcare, increasing market power, and a new wave of innovations - portends that healthcare could become the defining issue for the United States. Innovation in immunotherapy for cancer, gene therapy, and Alzheimer's breakthroughs offer hope for millions. Access to innovations and providers has been shown to improve outcomes and reduce financial uncertainty. But the nation's ability to ensure access for the poor, the sick, and the elderly will be compromised if we do not devise the appropriate regulatory and reimbursement policies to grapple with this challenge. Indeed, the long-term fiscal health of the United States depends on our ability to find the balance between paying for innovation in healthcare with continued access to these innovations.

    Discovering Solutions

    Innovation in new medicines and devices depends on regulation and pricing, while access depends on the generosity of public programs, tax policy, and the cost of delivering care. More generous access is valuable and creates incentives for even greater innovation. But this poses a challenge for public payers who now constitute the largest payers. Sustainable answers to this dilemma require balancing innovation and access with solutions that emphasize competition, value-based pricing, improvements in the productivity of the delivery system, premium-support in Medicare, tax-reform, and redesigning plans to offer value-based insurance. Learn more.

    Location

    The Harvard Kennedy School is uniquely positioned to be the home of this multi-disciplinary undertaking. It is ranked as the #1 health policy program in the nation. The program’s faculty affiliates and alumni are immersed in actual policy design and not simply the study of it; they have led the Food and Drug Administration, Congressional Budget Office, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, and served in the White House. The student interest group on health policy at the Kennedy School is now the largest student group at the School and demonstrates the extent to which future leaders and generations care about health policy. Finally, Harvard is in Boston, which is an unparalleled location to study US healthcare and the opportunities and challenges that it presents for the future. Boston has emerged as a center of innovation for biotechnology and devices, as well as for hospital care and public policy in healthcare. Massachusetts insured the uninsured before the rest of the nation in 2006; it experimented with alternative payment systems for physicians; it is where novel treatments for disease are discovered; and it is the largest training location for physicians in the world.

    Leadership

    The Program is directed by Professor Amitabh Chandra, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. The program is anchored by faculty and clinical affiliates from the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Medical School, School of Public Health, Business School, the Department of Economics, as well as the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

    Sponsors

    The Healthcare Policy Program is sustained through the numerous organizations and individuals who invest in the Program. These include support from: