Blog: The View from Here

  • Five Reasons for Population Health Hope in 2015

    Dec 17, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    At the end of 2015, it is worth taking a look at some of the progress that has been made this year advancing population health in this country. A little bit of love is called for: advocacy to improve the health of large numbers of people can be a lonely trail. It is far easier to arouse public sympathies for health care—for named victims, heroic healers, and miracle therapies. Health improvement … Read more

  • When Values and Evidence Collide: Reducing Teen Pregnancy Rates in Colorado

    Nov 17, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    Few policies intended to help people live longer are more effective than those targeting teen pregnancy rates. Yet even when those policies work, they are fraught with controversy and conflict. A look at what’s currently going on in Colorado demonstrates some of the challenges in addressing the social determinants of health. The evidence regarding factors that contribute to premature death is … Read more

  • Better Health Care Systems—A Mutual Effort

    Oct 19, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    When I regulated commercial health insurance in Rhode Island, I would point out that the politically conservative notion of a free market for health insurance depends on the liberal principle of collectivism. Health insurance only works if enough people come together so the many who are healthy can pay for the few who are sick—and if payments from insurers actually help improve the … Read more

  • Non-Partisan, but Not Neutral

    Sep 21, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    Bipartisanship in health policy is hard to find. Pick your topic—Medicaid expansion, Medicare reform, or health insurance exchanges—and voices are shrill, slogans are wielded like swords, and opinions ossified. Powered by easy ideologies and campaign cash, the outcomes of partisanship are misunderstandings, distrust, and a lack of progress on important issues. The Milbank Memorial Fund, in … Read more

  • Improving State Health Policy Leadership

    Aug 17, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    You would think a billion-dollar-a-year organization that pays its chief 20% of the market rate and turns that role over every two years—as is the case with state Medicaid programs—might start to consider the importance of leadership. Leadership also seems important for a public health agency charged with guarding the safety of food, water, and patient care, or a child welfare or human … Read more

  • They Called It “Secret,” We Call It “Confidential”

    Jul 21, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    “Secret Health-Law Huddle.” The headline made me shudder. It appeared in a national newspaper, describing a meeting hosted by the Milbank Memorial Fund. “Secret” implied scandal where there was none. That the meeting happened was no secret. The proceedings were, however, confidential. Yes, we had a meeting. No, we weren’t going to talk about what was said. There is a world of nuance … Read more

  • “Oh, Baltimore. Man, It’s Hard Just to Live”

    Jun 16, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    Randy Newman had it right 28 years ago and today—judging from recent events in Baltimore. Riots tore apart the city at the end of April in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, and the after-effects continue to ripple. Homicides in May of this year were 50% higher than May of last year driven, some say, by the large amounts of drugs in circulation looted from 27 pharmacies and … Read more

  • Why Can’t We Be Friends? The Challenge of Public-Private Collaborations that Improve Health Care

    May 20, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    State health policymakers face more work than they can handle now. Delivery system reform. Medicaid sustainability and expansion. Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation. The latest public health issue. Angry constituents. When can they collaborate with private sector leaders working on some of the same issues? The Fund, with the help of the Network for Regional Health Improvement, recently … Read more

  • No Longer Trying to Have it Both Ways: Measuring Total Health Care Costs

    Apr 15, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    Welcome to health care’s economic wonderland: “Health care costs are killing employers and the government budget.” “Health care jobs are the key to our economic recovery.” “We want to lure more high-paying biotech jobs into our community.” These contradictory statements often peacefully coexist in the magical reality of this wonderland. When I was health insurance … Read more

  • Keeping Lives Safe: the Australian Way

    Mar 12, 2015 | Christopher F. Koller, President

    Along the coast of Australia, every community has its own Surf Life-Saving Club (SLSC), a voluntary club that trains and certifies residents to patrol the beaches. Most have their own building overlooking the surf—and get some support from the local municipality, akin to our voluntary fire departments. SLSCs are ubiquitous—especially on crowded suburban beaches. SLSC members walk around the … Read more