Program Assistant, Medicare and Cost Control

Hiring Organization: 
The Commonwealth Fund
City and State: 
New York, NY


The Commonwealth Fund — among the first private foundations started by a woman philanthropist, Anna M. Harkness — was established in 1918 with the broad charge to enhance the common good. Today, the mission of The Commonwealth Fund is to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, and people of color. The Fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy. An international program in health policy is designed to stimulate innovative policies and practices in the United States and other industrialized countries.


The U.S. health care system is by far the most expensive in the world, consuming 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. That’s 50 percent higher than the share of GDP devoted to health care in the second-most-expensive country and double that in many other high-income countries.

Despite all that spending, health outcomes for Americans are often worse than in those other countries.  The U.S. health care system is fraught with wasteful and inefficient spending and prices are higher than those that other developed nations pay for the same medical services, devices, and pharmaceuticals―even those produced in the United States and sold on global markets. The inefficiency of U.S. health care is putting a strain on businesses, governments, and household budgets―diverting resources away from investments in jobs, education, and other social and economic needs. The Commonwealth Fund’s Controlling Health Care Costs initiative monitors and analyzes spending in both the public and private health care sectors. It seeks answers to two central questions:

  • What is driving cost and spending trends in health care markets across the country?
  • What policy reforms, innovations in care delivery, or changes in provider payment have the potential to reduce costs while improving health outcomes in all regions?

Patients with the highest and costliest health care needs, such as people with multiple chronic conditions, are a particular emphasis of the initiative. Research efforts also focus on the cost impact of new medical technologies and changing demographics, as well as the role of prices, treatment patterns, and resource use.

It is hoped that findings from these and other analyses will inform new approaches to controlling costs that yield far better value for our health care dollars.


For nearly five decades, Medicare has helped older adults and disabled people of all ages obtain the health care they need while protecting them from severe financial hardship. The Commonwealth Fund’s Advancing Medicare initiative identifies ways in which this crucial program―the largest single payer of health care services in the United States―can serve its beneficiaries more effectively and efficiently while helping to foster health system improvements nationwide. Medicare has enormous capacity to leverage broader change in U.S. health care. More than 50 million aged and disabled Americans access care through the program, which accounts for a large and growing share of the federal budget (the government spends nearly $600 billion on Medicare benefits annually, accounting for 18 percent of total federal non-interest spending). And with the creation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Medicare has a key role in the development, implementation, evaluation, and spread of innovative models of health care organization, delivery, and payment—not only for Medicare, but for other federal and state health insurance programs and private payers, too. The Fund and its grantees examine how Medicare can:

  • Improve access to care needed by aged and disabled beneficiaries.
  • Restrain the growth of program costs.
  • Assess and disseminate innovations in care delivery and provider payment throughout the program and the entire health system.
  • Improve coordination between Medicare and other public programs, like Medicaid.
  • Drive improvements in other areas of the health system, such as employer-funded, private health insurance.


Reporting to the assistant vice president, the program assistant is the staff member responsible for providing daily support for the Cost Control and Medicare Programs. The program assistant will be expected to perform a variety of duties ranging from daily administrative and grants management tasks to writing, editing, and research responsibilities.


Grants Management (40%)

  • Provide support in the development of grants, including: conducting background research; working with potential grantees to refine proposals and ensure completion of all required documents; assisting in internal reviews of proposals; taking detailed notes and preparing summaries of review meetings for proposed grants. Draft correspondence to current and prospective grantees; assemble and provide materials on Fund programs, projects, and other activities.
  • Provide support for the program, including: drafting summaries of proposed grants, payment and reporting schedules, and letters of agreement; monitoring timelines and tracking grantee products, including papers and conferences; scheduling grant payments accordingly; writing summaries of results of internal review of grantee products, including papers and reports; planning meetings, forums or conferences related to grantee work; and preparing memos analyzing completed projects.
  • Act as a liaison with Communications to ensure the dissemination of all grant products, including: coordinating the review of draft grantee publications by Fund staff and the promotion of grantee-published articles; tracking products as they progress in the publication process; fact checking language for the Fund website that publicizes grantee work; reviewing and providing program updates to the Fund website as needed; coordinating with grantees and Communications staff to produce webinars, podcasts, and other multimedia to promote grantee work and publicize the program.

General Administrative Responsibilities (30%)

  • Provide administrative support to the assistant vice president: including the calendar, phone, travel, meetings, expense reports, correspondence, and distribution of program work.
  • Arrange appointments and schedule conference calls and some in-house meetings. Involved in the facilitation of discussion, content of materials for attendees, and minutes/reports of the meeting/conference.
  • Prepare documents for internal meetings, including the annual program plan, budget meeting, and proposal review meetings. This includes closely monitoring grantee work status and impact throughout the year, internet and library research and assembling materials and detailed information about projects. Prepare materials, including PowerPoint slides, for public and internal presentations.
  • Prepare correspondence to current and prospective grantees, consultants, and experts reviewing proposed projects; assemble and provide materials on Fund programs, projects, and other activities as requested by grantees and other individuals.

Research and Analysis (30%)

  • Conducts background research in Fund program area as needed by the assistant vice president, including literature reviews, Internet searches and tracking journals, working papers, legislative developments and public coverage of health policy issues. In addition, summarizes reports from Federal and private sources.
  • Occasionally attends relevant meetings, conferences, and webinars in support of the programs.
  • Corresponds with current and prospective grantees, consultants, and experts reviewing proposed projects; assembles and provides materials on Fund program, projects, and other activities as requested by grantees and other individuals.
  • Provides research and writing support to assistant vice president for Fund publications. This work includes: preparing tables and charts as well as drafting summaries of grantee or Fund reports.

The Fund’s philosophy on successful performance in the job includes the willingness on the part of all staff members to handle any assignment necessary to further the goals of the institution. This may include taking on responsibility in other program areas if the need arises.


  • A college bachelor’s degree with a major in public policy or public health is preferred
  • One to two years of work experience, preferably in health policy or policy research
  • Strong technical skills, including proficient use of databases (Salesforce is a plus) and Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, and PowerPoint).
  • Experience in analyzing and interpreting data
  • Meeting management experience
  • Ability to multi-task, prioritize, and follow through to effectively manage work and meet multiple tight deadlines
  • Exceptional attention to detail and organizational skills
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Good judgment and the ability to act independently within standard guidelines
  • Flexibility and skill in working as a team member

The Fund has a relatively small staff, and judgment, integrity, and the ability to listen with sensitivity to others are traits that are particularly important in an organization of the Fund’s size, where teamwork is essential to effectiveness. The ability to work collegially with a variety of Fund staff and interest in and strong commitment to the Fund’s mission and grants programs are key qualifications.


Commensurate with background and experience. We also provide an excellent benefits package including:

  • Employer-paid health, dental, disability, and life insurance
  • Employer retirement contributions starting at 11.125% of employee’s annual salary
  • 25 days of paid time off (30 once you reach your 3rd year anniversary) and 1:00 p.m. closings on summer Fridays
  • Tuition reimbursement of up to $8,000 annually
  • Free daily lunch in staff dining room

Employment at The Commonwealth Fund is based upon personal capabilities and qualifications without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual preference, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, medical condition, disability, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.


How to Apply: 
Please send a cover letter (including salary expectations), resume, and one writing sample with the subject line “Program Assistant, Cost Control – [Your Name]” to Gabrielle Wuolo, Director of Human Resources and Operations, at
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