Ford School receives $1.2 million grant for health policy research

January 15, 2016

The University of Michigan received a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to establish the Policies for Action Research Hub at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The Ford School is one of three institutions to receive the grant to conduct research on policies, laws and other regulatory tools that support the foundation’s mission to promote health equity and build a culture of health.

“Our goal is to produce innovative, timely, and actionable policy research that will accelerate progress toward better population health and health equity,” said principal investigator Paula Lantz, a prominent health policy researcher and associate dean of the Ford School. 

“We’ll focus on topics and issues for which there is a fair amount of action and activity, but which suffer from a paucity of critical analysis and evidence that can inform best practices and future policy directions,” she said.

The U-M Research Hub will conduct empirical research projects on three emerging, fluid sets of activities and policies that are already underway across the U.S.

Researchers will:

  • investigate policy issues regarding social impact bonds or “pay for success” demonstrations.
  • study “health in all policies” efforts at the state and local levels, and 
  • examine interventions that target “super-utilizers” of health care services.

A fourth project will address policy simulation modeling to assess the potential impact of various policy interventions aimed at population health improvement. 

Lantz’ co-principal investigator is Peter D. Jacobson, a professor of health management and policy in U-M’s School of Public Health. 

The U-M Research Hub will be led by a steering committee comprised of multidisciplinary faculty with expertise in over 15 different disciplines, representing 9 different schools and research institutes. 

The Ford School and School of Public Health are joined by the Medical School; College of Literature, Science & Arts; Ross School of Business; Law School; Institute for Social Research; Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation; and the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.

“This is a tremendously exciting investment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” said Susan M. Collins, Ford School dean. “The research will be carried out in a truly collaborative environment by scholars dedicated to improving real-world health policy and outcomes.” 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of Americans, funded three research hubs as part of its major new Policies for Action initiative. The other two hubs are located at New York University’s Wagner School and the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, with coordination and oversight efforts housed at Temple University. 

--Story by Alex Berger