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 Affordable Care Act brought significant change to the U.S. health system, expanding comprehensive health insurance to millions of Americans and making it possible for anyone with health problems to get coverage by banning insurers from denying coverage or charging more because of pre-existing conditions. As a result, the number of uninsured people has fallen by nearly half since the ACA became law. There has also been a decline in the share of people reporting problems paying medical bills or not getting needed care because of cost. The large body of research on the ACA shows that the law’s overall impact on people’s ability to afford insurance and get health care has been positive. However, three distinct, yet interrelated, problems remain: 29.7 million people remain uninsured, 44 million people with insurance have plans that are leaving them underinsured, and health care costs are growing faster than median income in most states.
In order to help meet these challenges, the Health Care Coverage and Access & Tracking Health System Performance Program conducts extramural and intramural research on the extent and quality of insurance, health care access and financial problems stemming from inadequate coverage and health system performance at the national, state, and local levels, including examining and developing policy options aimed at improving performance.
The program seeks to educate and inform policy makers, the media, health system leaders and practitioners, community leaders, and the public. We accomplish this by tracking and assessing health system performance in the areas of coverage and access, costs, quality of care, health outcomes, and equity at the national, state, and local levels. This includes developing and monitoring policies aimed at improving performance. The team also collaborates with other Fund programs on publications and products that support the Funds priorities.
This position is an important member of the Fund’s Health Care Coverage and Access & Tracking Health System Performance Program which reports to the Vice President. The Research Associate is an integral member of the five-person team. The team maintains a growing state data center on the Fund’s website and conducts two ongoing population-based surveys on coverage and access. These databases inform the Fund’s annual State Scorecard of state performance rankings and policy relevant reports, issue briefs, blog posts, and web-based interactive tools. The publications are geared to produce a quantitative and qualitative evidence base to inform policy making at both the state and federal levels on timely issues.
The primary responsibility of the Research Associate is to carry out quantitative and qualitative research, data analysis, policy analysis, writing and editing to help the Health Care Coverage and Access & Tracking Health System Performance Program achieve its goals and deliverables. The Research Associate helps maintain the state data center and participates in writing and editing Fund publications including reports, issue briefs, blog posts, web-interactive tools, and journal articles based on the state data center and the Fund’s surveys. Responsibilities will include making presentations at public and professional meetings.
- Actively participates in the selection/development, research, and analysis of national, state, local, and special-population-level health system performance measures for the state data center.
- Serves as co-author and sometimes first author on the program’s written products. Depending on the publication, this can involve collaborating closely with other Fund program staff, in addition to team members.
- Both lead- and co-author roles entail drafting and editing text; creating charts, graphs and appendix tables; participating in the Fund’s publication review process and making revisions requested by internal and external reviewers and Fund Communications staff; and proofreading and checking for data accuracy.
- Maintain and build knowledge base on the Affordable Care Act and other active and proposed major health policy legislation in the areas of program focus as well as emerging regulations and guidance, and legal challenges. This will help inform data center measure selection, survey questionnaire development, data analysis and presentation, focus of publications, and public releases.
- Maintain and build knowledge-base and conduct research on the literature, policy environment, and industry trends related to health system performance on the key measures of program focus. Monitor journals, working papers, legislative developments, survey reports, and other information related to the program area.
- Actively collaborates with co-authors and the Fund’s internal and external communications staff on activities related to the public release of the program’s publications. These typically include helping to: review state data profiles, shape and review the press release and e-alert and create presentations of key findings for the media. May be asked to present the key findings to the media and participate in interviews with journalists, particularly for those publications where s/he is the lead author.
- Participates in the development of online versions of reports, data visualizations, and related interactives, with the Fund’s Vice President for Digital Information and Strategy.
- Working closely with the Senior Scientist and Senior Researcher assists with complex data analysis using Excel spreadsheets, STATA, and other data analytic software.
- Works with the Program Assistant on grant related matters as needed including the development of small grants/contracts related to data acquisition and measure development, and completed grant memoranda regarding grant achievements, issues in implementation, and lessons learned for Fund grantmaking.
- Provides high level support to the VP in the development and writing of research and policy briefs and To the Point blog posts and journal articles for Fund or outside publication.
- Develops slides and handouts for internal and external team presentations. Presents material as appropriate.
- Helps to organize and support meetings and collaboration among advisory and affinity groups.
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 or departments if the need arises.
- Master’s degree or the equivalent in work experience. Preference will be given to applicants with prior research or journalism experience and/or formal education in economics or health policy. Demonstrated interest in health policy a plus.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills, with record of policy or journalism publication and/or presentation of research for policy or public audiences. An ability to convey complex technical issues to a lay policy audience.
- Detail oriented with strong analytic skills. Demonstrated ability to gather, analyze, and synthesize data from various sources and produce graphics and tabular data presentations.
- Highly organized and able to manage multiple tasks and production of deliverables in a fast- paced environment.
- Dedicated team player with flexibility to work with and without supervision.
- Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite of products. Familiarity with spreadsheet analysis and STATA, SAS, or similar statistical software a plus. Candidates must be willing to learn new computer skills as necessary.
The Fund has a relatively small staff so 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
Please send a cover letter (including salary expectations), resume, and one writing sample with the subject line “Research Associate – [Your Name]” to Gabrielle Wuolo, Director of Human Resources and Operations, at email@example.com.
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.