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David Blumenthal
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David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., is president of The Commonwealth Fund, a national philanthropy engaged in independent research on health and social policy issues.

Dr. Blumenthal is formerly the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief Health Information and Innovation Officer at Partners Healthcare System in Boston. From 2009 to 2011, he served as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, with the charge to build an interoperable, private, and secure nationwide health information system and to support the widespread, meaningful use of health IT. He succeeded in putting in place one of the largest publicly funded infrastructure investments the nation has ever made in such a short time period, in health care or any other field.

Previously, Dr. Blumenthal was a practicing primary care physician, director of the Institute for Health Policy, and professor of medicine and health policy at Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners Healthcare System and Harvard Medical School. He is the author of more than 250 books and scholarly publications, including most recently, Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and a former board member and national correspondent for the New England Journal of Medicine. He has also served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research; is the founding chairman of AcademyHealth, the national organization of health services researchers; and a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Dr. Blumenthal received his undergraduate, medical, and public policy degrees from Harvard University and completed his residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. With his colleagues from Harvard Medical School, he authored the seminal studies on the adoption and use of health information technology in the United States. He has held several leadership positions in medicine, government, and academia, including senior vice president at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and executive director of the Center for Health Policy and Management and lecturer on public policy at the Kennedy School of Government. He served previously on the board of the University of Chicago Health System and is recipient of the Distinguished Investigator Award from AcademyHealth, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Rush University and an Honorary Doctor of Science from the State University of New York Downstate.

Entries by David Blumenthal

Hamilton and Health Care

(2) Comments | Posted January 25, 2016 | 10:49 AM

If you want to understand health care in America, go to Broadway, where Hamilton is playing nightly to sell-out crowds. Better yet, read the Ron Chernow biography, Alexander Hamilton, on which the show is based.

In health care politics--and in all our politics--the United States is still living...

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2015: The Health Care Year in Review

(1) Comments | Posted December 22, 2015 | 5:38 PM

Coauthored by David Squires

When it comes to historic changes in the U.S. health care system, few years could compete with 2014, but 2015 gave it a run for its money. With 2016 knocking at the door, it's time to take a look back and round up the biggest health...

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How Stable Are the ACA Marketplaces?

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2015 | 9:44 AM

Coauthored by Sara Collins

The news that UnitedHealth Group is considering leaving the new health insurance marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has prompted some concern about the their long-term viability. But UnitedHealth Group's possible departure is not really the issue. The insurer was a minor player in...

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What's the Big Deal About Drug Prices?

(0) Comments | Posted October 9, 2015 | 10:55 AM

So, what's the big deal about drug prices?

Americans believe in markets. Some think that markets should govern health care, just like other economic sectors. In fact, a common critique of the current health care system is that the government is too involved, and should get out of the way...

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Estimating the Affordable Care Act's Impact on Health

(0) Comments | Posted August 12, 2015 | 1:53 PM

Coauthored by David Squires

With the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the government in King v. Burwell, opinion polls suggest that some Americans are taking a fresh look at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and reassessing its merits. A key question for them -- and one that...

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Could the Affordable Care Act Make the U.S. More Competitive Abroad?

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2015 | 12:32 PM

Coauthored by David Squires

Recent debates about the Trans-Pacific Partnership got us thinking about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) might affect U.S. competitiveness abroad. The connection is stronger than you might expect.

Our competitiveness in global trade, of course, depends on the relative cost and quality of the goods...

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Coverage and Financial Security Preserved for Millions of Americans in the Supreme Court Ruling for the Government

(2) Comments | Posted June 29, 2015 | 2:34 PM

Co-authored by Sara Collins

The Supreme Court decided last week in favor of the government in the King v. Burwell case. The case had contested the legality of the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies in the 34 states that have federally facilitated marketplaces.1  The decision means that the estimated 6.4...

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Bending the Curve on Patient Safety?

(2) Comments | Posted February 12, 2015 | 10:03 AM

Fifteen years ago, the landmark Institute of Medicine report, "To Err Is Human," estimated that medical errors led to 44,000 to 98,000 deaths each year. Later estimates put those figures even higher.

Because the lion's share of errors seemed preventable, the report asserted that, "it would be...

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IPAB: Ditching the Dog That Didn't Bark

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2015 | 8:50 AM

The Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, has been a popular target for critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since the law passed, so eliminating IPAB, either separately or through wholesale ACA repeal, could be high on the legislative agenda in the new Congress. The strange thing is: IPAB...

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2014: The Health Care Year in Review

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 11:15 AM

ICYMI, 2014 was not just any old year in health care. The problem isn’t finding historic events to note, it’s pruning the list. Here’s a crack at some things that we at The Commonwealth Fund thought worth calling out.

  1. Uninsured rate drops: For the first time...

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Health Reform: Foolish, Courageous, or Both

(1) Comments | Posted December 4, 2014 | 2:50 PM

Some supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are worried they're paying a political price for health care reform. The political fallout should come as no surprise.

The history of comprehensive health reform shows unequivocally that it's a short-term political disaster. That's why so many political leaders have...

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Electronic Health Records: The New Lightning Rod in Health Care

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2014 | 12:52 PM

When Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital failed to diagnose the first known case of Ebola in the U.S., the hospital initially blamed its electronic health record (EHR). As it turned out, the problem was the humanware, not the software. The culprit was a mundane and all-too-common failure by people to communicate...

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Do Health Care Costs Fuel Economic Inequality in the United States?

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 6:15 PM

The growing debate over economic inequality in the developed world, highlighted by Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, raises an interesting question that is particularly pertinent to the United States. Have escalating health care costs contributed to the huge economic gap between America's rich and the rest? The evidence,...

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Drugs and Dollars

(0) Comments | Posted July 31, 2014 | 10:54 AM

Even with the relentless spotlight on the Affordable Care Act, a new health issue is edging toward center stage: drug costs. The poster drug for this controversy is Sovaldi, a dramatically effective and extraordinarily expensive new agent for treating hepatitis C, which causes chronic liver infection.

The hepatitis C virus...

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Big: Grappling With the Size of U.S. Health Care

(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 3:48 PM

When it comes to U.S. health care, size is a big deal (sorry). Here are a few facts to make the point.

Our health care system serves a country extending 4,600 miles -- from the Bering Strait to Key West. The distance from the equator to the North Pole: 6,000...

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Of Leaders and Geeks

(0) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 5:37 PM

Consider these seemingly unrelated developments:

1. An IT failure ( nearly destroys a president's legacy, while a seeming IT triumph (the National Security Agency's electronic snooping skills) throws his foreign policy into turmoil.

2. According to Michael Lewis' fascinating and scary book Flash Boys, Wall Street geeks make billions through...

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Drop in Health Care-Acquired Infections Points the Way to Progress

(1) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 5:26 PM

Sometimes the news is good.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing that health care-acquired infections (HAIs) are decreasing in the nation's hospitals. Dropping fastest are central line-associated blood stream infections (44 percent from 2008-12) and some surgical site infections (down as...

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Time to Move on

(0) Comments | Posted April 2, 2014 | 10:47 AM

For the last four years, politicians, policymakers, and the media have focused almost obsessively on the coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The fundamental question has been whether the law would survive or be repealed, and its coverage provisions -- the creation of new individual and small-business marketplaces...

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Taking Stock of SHOP Insurance Marketplaces for Small Businesses

(0) Comments | Posted March 27, 2014 | 7:37 PM

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) under the Affordable Care Act enables businesses with 50 or fewer employees to purchase private health insurance for their employees, and employers with fewer than 25 employees and lower-wage workforces to earn a tax credit for doing so. A recent Commonwealth...

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Narrow Health Care Provider Networks: Boon or Bane?

(1) Comments | Posted February 25, 2014 | 9:55 AM

Some health plans sold through the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) health insurance marketplaces use "narrow networks" of providers. That is, they limit the doctors and hospitals their customers can use. Go to Doctor A or Hospital A and the plan will pay all or most of the bill. Go to...

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