May 7, 2009

Katherine Baicker (Professor of Health Economics, Harvard School of Public Health) and Amitabh Chandra (Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School)

This brief is part of a longer forthcoming work by Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra. Funding for this research was provided in part by the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and the Taubman Center for State and Local Government. It was originally released at the "Challenge of Sustaining Health Care Reform in Massachusetts" conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on May 7, 2009. The conference was co-sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s New England Public Policy Center, Harvard Program for Health Systems Improvement, and the Taubman Center for State and Local Government.

At both the state and national level, sustainable, long-term health-care reform has three goals: extending health insurance to the currently uninsured, improving the quality of care, and ensuring that costs reflect the value of the care that patients receive. The question is whether these goals are both compatible and achievable. Policies that use local benchmarks to improve quality and hold down costs may be an effective and feasible way to achieve these goals.