Press Releases / January 12, 2022

NIHCM Awards $500,000 in Research Grants: Work will Explore Mental Health Care for Children, Rural Health, Health Equity, Access to Care, and more

Washington, D.C., January 12, 2022 – The 2021 NIHCM Research Grant recipients stand to break new ground on issues critical to public health. The studies target a range of important topics, including the impact of the shift toward telehealth, the effects of new Medicare and Medicaid policies, and new approaches to health care system management. The NIHCM Foundation's Research and Journalism programs provide $1 million in grants each year.

“This year’s grant recipients will continue the NIHCM tradition of spurring firsts in the advancement of evidence on important health challenges such as addressing health equity, high rates of maternal mortality, and pandemic-induced changes to our health care system,” said Nancy Chockley, Founding President and CEO of NIHCM.

The 2021 grantees are:

Delivering Medicaid Mental Health Services and Supports in Schools
The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the mental health of school-age children. This study will examine whether and how state Medicaid programs finance the delivery of mental health promotion, screening, and treatment services in schools. The research will illuminate coverage gaps, identify barriers and facilitators to the delivery of school-based mental health care. The work may inform recommendations for Medicaid policy focused on improving child mental health through schools.

Vinu Ilakkuvan, PoP Health, LLC
Anne De Biasi, Consultant

Defining the Digital Divide: Implications for Improving Access to Care
Residents of rural communities face health disparities and have more limited access to health care, but that may be improved by increasing telehealth availability. This study will investigate factors that influence a person’s ability or decision to use telehealth technology in rural areas and the barriers they may face. The research may contribute to improvements in health systems and practices and inform policy.

The Center for Rural Community Health, Bassett Research Institute, Bassett Medical Center:
Wendy Brunner
Kristin Pullyblank
Nicole Krupa
Amanda Fink

Assessing Postpartum Care Among Medicaid Beneficiaries in an Era of Expanded Access and Telehealth Services
The U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality among developed countries, with significant disparities by race and ethnicity. This study will investigate how the extension of Medicaid eligibility from 60 days to one year postpartum and the rapid adoption of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic affected the provision of postpartum care, including differential impacts by race and ethnicity. The results should increase understanding of the value of these policy changes and identify remaining inequities.

Massachusetts General Hospital:
Mark Clapp
Kaitlyn James
Harvard University:
Jessica Cohen
Sarah Kotby

Health Equity and the Impact of Medicaid Telehealth Policy
Access to health care is an issue that contributes to health disparities in Black, Latino, and low-income populations. This research will assess whether the expanded client and provider access to telehealth care allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic improved health equity among Medicaid beneficiaries in Virginia. Federal and state policymakers may use the findings to consider whether and how to extend the more liberal telehealth policies.

George Mason University:
Alison Cuellar
Leah Adams

Redesigning Payment Policy for Physician-Administered Drugs
Physician-administered drugs include treatments for serious illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. These drugs are also some of the most expensive prescription treatments. This project will model how Medicare Part B payment policy affects the price path of newly-approved, physician-administered drugs and physician demand for these drugs. The objective is to estimate the impact of the alternative payment policies that Medicare and commercial insurers might adopt for physician-administered drugs.

Boston University:
Keith Marzilli Ericson
Angie Acquatella
Amanda Starc, Northwestern University

Can Medical Practices Afford to Increase Efficiency?
Increasing efficiency in medical practices has the potential to lower costs and improve care. This project will investigate what is required for primary care clinics participating in the Minnesota State Employee Group Insurance Program (SEGIP) to significantly improve efficiency, including what type of incentive is needed to provide sufficient financial remuneration for clinics, and what barriers clinics face to improving efficiency. Study results will inform SEGIP design improvements and be useful to other state employee insurance programs and large employers.

RAND Corporation:
Tim McDonald
Laurie Martin
Bryan Dowd, University of Minnesota

Making Primary Care Count: Intended and Unintended Consequences of the Evaluation & Management Payment Change
To improve the understanding between payments and several aspects of primary care, this study will investigate the impact of the evaluation and management payment changes implemented in the Medicare program in January 2021 on beneficiary access to primary care and specialty services, total Medicare spending, the distribution of payments between specialists and primary care physicians and the complexity level coded for billed visits. Findings will inform discussions about the budget neutrality of the payment change, the relationship between payment and access to care, and clinical workforce adequacy.

University of Minnesota:
Hannah Neprash
Ezra Golberstein
Harvard University:
Michael Chernew
Ishani Ganguli

Vertical Integration of Specialty Physician Practices and the Association with Private Equity Acquisition of Short-Term Acute Care Hospitals
Will private equity ownership of acute care hospitals change the dynamic between the acquired hospitals and other upstream and downstream providers, such as physician practices and post-acute care facilities? This research will investigate the impact of this type of ownership and may offer insight for health policy deliberations and anti-trust regulations on the topic.

Duke University:
James Roberts
Marcelo Cerullo
Ryan McDevitt
Anaeze Offodile, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Provider Price Strategies and Insurer Counter-Strategies for Infused Drugs in Hospital and Independent Sites of Care
This study will explore the private-payer pricing variation for infused drugs delivered in hospital outpatient departments and independent physician offices and estimate the potential savings if insurers use coinsurance, narrow networks, or reference pricing to shift drug infusion services from hospital outpatient departments to physician offices.

James Robinson, University of California, Berkeley
Christopher Whaley, RAND Corporation
Sanket Dhruva, University of California San Francisco

Meals on Wheels Services and Healthcare Utilization Among Frail Older Adults Over Time
Previous studies have found that older adults benefit from Meals on Wheels (MOW) services in many ways, including improved nutrition and social interaction. This new research will investigate whether receipt of MOW services by frail elder adults reduces the likelihood or delays the occurrence of a subsequent hospitalization or permanent nursing home placement. The study will also explore MOW’s impact on different racial and ethnic groups, ages, and genders. Findings may help to solidify more financial support for meal delivery programs.

Sarah Walsh, Eastern Michigan University
Xavier University:
France Weaver
Jennifer Chubinski

Forum on Traumatic Brain Injury
Recognizing the ongoing need for advancements in traumatic brain injury (TBI) research, this project will explore opportunities for collective action and strategic planning to advance TBI research and care by bringing together public- and private-sector experts and stakeholders several times during the year through forum meetings and public workshops or webinars.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
Andrew Pope
Katherine Bowman
Clare Stroud
Chanel Matney


NIHCM Foundation
(202) 296-4426