Dec. 9, 1993
Vol. 13, No. 8

current issue
archive / search

    Health-policy research council established at Harris Scho

    An innovative research and public-policy council that will tackle major health-care problems in the Chicago area has been established at the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies.

    The newly formed Chicago Health Policy Research Council is a policy advisory panel that will recommend issues to be studied. The council is assisted by an academic research consortium, which will direct the research. The council's chairman is Susan Manilow, chairman of the board of Mt. Sinai Health System.

    In support of its work, the council has received a grant of more than $1 million from the Chicago Community Trust. Other foundations and government agencies will also be approached with proposals once a health-care agenda for the Chicago region has been established.

    Richard Sewell, former deputy commissioner for public health and clinical services with the Chicago Department of Health, has been named Executive Director of the Chicago Health Policy Research Council. The council will be composed of leaders in the health-care field. The academic research consortium will be co-directed by Christine Cassel, Professor in Medicine and in the Harris School, and Edward Lawlor, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and in the Harris School and Director of the Center for Health Administration Studies.

    Manilow said, "This is an unusual effort for a major metropolitan area, but one that is seriously needed in Chicago. The Chicago Health Policy Research Council is designed to create a forum for scholars, health policy makers, health-care administrators and civic leaders to develop and implement responsive health policy in the Chicago metropolitan area. This sort of coordination has not been possible before."

    Several serious efforts at health-care reform in Illinois have been made during the past few years, Manilow said. The Chicago Health Policy Research Council hopes to build on the awareness generated by those efforts to create a sustained momentum for lasting reform.

    According to Manilow, the council intends to create an improved source of health-care data that will serve as a comprehensive resource for policy-makers and researchers. Such a data base will improve the ability of Illinois to reform health care, she said.

    "We do not have information that is readily available in other states, such as California, about the health of our residents. What we do have is often not in the same place or in the same form, a situation that makes the data difficult to use," she explained.

    Data will be collected by the Center for Health Administration Studies, which is based in the School of Social Service Administration. The National Opinion Research Center will be a partner in the data collection.

    In addition to coordinating research on health care, the council will support the training of graduate and postdoctoral students in health-policy research.

    "This initiative demonstrates the ways in which the Harris School can bring together people from academic and policy communities to work together on an important problem," said Robert Michael, Dean of the Harris School. "The Harris School was established to be just this sort of connection, and we're grateful for the contributions these leaders will make in helping us take a focused look at the Chicago region's health-care needs."

    One of the first activities for the council will be the preparation of a research agenda. The council will address both long-range and short-range problems, Lawlor said.

    Some examples of public-health issues the council might recommend for study are how to respond to the epidemic of violence, how to control the outbreak of drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis and how to deal with risky sexual behavior. The council may also recommend a study of health-care systems and financing in order to respond to the demand for health-care reform at the state and regional levels.

    "These are just some ideas for the group," Lawlor said. "It will be up to the council to set an agenda, but the potential for improved health policy in Chicago is great because the council begins its work at a time when the marketplace is being transformed and health-care reform has taken on great urgency."

    To date, the council includes John Crosby, senior vice president for health policy, American Medical Association; Earl Frederick, chairman of the board, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois; Sokoni Karanji, president, Center for New Horizons; James Knickman, vice president for research, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Sheila Lyne, commissioner of health, Chicago Department of Health; Jeff Miller, deputy dean for administration and planning, Northwestern University Medical School; Jacqueline Reed, executive director, Westside Health Authority; Richard Risk, president and chief executive officer, EHS Health Care; Ruth Rothstein, chief of the Bureau of Health Services of Cook County; Kevin Sherin, executive director, DuPage County Health Department; and John Washburn, senior vice president, Virginia Surety Co.