Stuart Altman to chair effort to cut health care costs

Gov. Deval Patrick appoints him to lead the new Health Policy Commission

Professor Stuart Altman

Stuart Altman, the Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy in Brandeis’ Heller School for Social Policy and Management, has been appointed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to chair the agency charged with monitoring the reform of Massachusetts health care delivery and payment systems in order to reduce costs and improve quality.

Altman will chair the board of the Health Policy Commission, which sets the broad policy direction for the Commonwealth based on data and information collected by the Center for Health Information and Analysis.

“Dr. Altman’s experience in matters of health policy in both the public and private sectors is deep and unparalleled and will be an asset to the Commonwealth in our work to drive health care costs down,” the governor said in announcing the appointment. “I thank him for his willingness to serve.”

focus on faculty logoThe Health Policy Commission was created by first-in-the-nation health care cost-containment legislation that became law last summer. It is charged with establishing a statewide goal for reducing the growth in health care costs and monitoring progress through annual cost trends hearings.  The commission also works with the health care industry to foster innovative health care delivery and payment models to help achieve this goal.

The commission is governed by an 11-person board appointed by the governor, the attorney general and the state auditor, with input from an advisory council. The board’s first full meeting is scheduled for Nov. 16.

Altman is an economist with nearly five decades of experience working on health policy issues in both the public and private sector. He served as a deputy assistant secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in President Richard Nixon’s administration and was an architect of Nixon’s plan for universal health care. He was chair of the commission overseeing the way Medicare paid health care institutions for 12 years under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

He also served on President Clinton’s transition team and was a member of the president’s Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. He was a member of the health policy team for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

At Brandeis, Altman has served as dean of the Heller School and as interim president of the university. He is currently chair of Brandeis’ Health Industry Forum.

“I fully appreciate the importance of this appointment and the confidence the governor has in my ability to help guide this important effort,” Altman said. “Addressing unsustainable health care cost growth is a critically important challenge for Massachusetts.”

Altman also is a member of the Institute of Medicine and a member of the board of Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. He holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Patrick administration has created a website dedicated to the cost containment law, with detailed information about the law and notices of upcoming events related to the law’s implementation. The site serves as a clearinghouse for information on efforts to control health care costs, creating a transparent home for updates on progress, and other information important to consumers throughout the Commonwealth.

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