CHSPM staff attending a HBHI event

Building a supply-side model of the U.S. health care system

Health care goods and services now constitute nearly 20% of the U.S. economy and millions of health care providers assess and treat patients every day. At the same time, care is usually poorly coordinated, care volume drives increasingly unaffordable costs, health outcomes are poor by international standards, public health is underfunded, and little is known about how the health care “system” responds to policies and incentives.

Today, with the continued problems of rising health care costs and poor care outcomes – especially for historically disadvantaged communities and people of color - thrown into stark relief by the pandemic, most of the leading policy ideas for improving health delivery fall under the conceptual umbrellas of “value-based” health care and managed insurer competition.

However, the jury is still out on many of these value-based pilots and the emerging consensus in the policy community is that they have been so numerous and overlapping that it is difficult to understand their effects. The policy-making process has also not yet incorporated ideas about effective ways for public health to interface with or substitute for privately provided health care.

These are some of the policy challenges that the Center for Health Systems and Policy Modeling hopes to address. The Health System model will provide policymakers, health care providers, and businesses with insights into the ways in which incentives and institutional structures shape care delivery and outcomes–and how policy and business decisions can alter them. Through this model, the Center aims to become a definitive source of information on the U.S. health sector and the policy levers that could bring better outcomes at lower costs in the future.

In addition, the Center’s research will address emerging issues in health policy with rigorous empirical work—predictive models and causal inference methods from econometric study designs—towards the goal of providing insights to the health care sector, businesses, and policymakers on how to improve health care delivery and outcomes.


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Melinda J.B. Buntin, PhD

Melinda J.B. Buntin, PhD is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Economics in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Bloomberg School of Public Health and in the Carey Business School. She joins Hopkins from Vanderbilt University, where she was University Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Health Policy; Leadership, Policy and Organization; and Medicine, Health, & Society and where she held the Mike Curb Chair for Health Policy as Chair of the Department of Health Policy, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Dr. Buntin trained in health policy with a concentration in economics at Harvard University where she received her Ph.D. in 2000. She started her professional career at RAND Health and transitioned into several health policy leadership roles during her 12 years in Washington, D.C. She was the Director of the Office of Economic Analysis, Evaluation and Modeling at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and was Deputy Director of Health, Retirement and Long-Term Analysis at the Congressional Budget Office. In 2013, she became the founding Chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University, a multidisciplinary department within a medical school. During her tenure she grew the faculty from 9 to 22 and started a Health Policy track in the MPH program and a PhD Program in Health Policy. Under her leadership and vision, it has become one of the leading departments of its kind.  

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Klara Lou

Klara Lou is a Research Data Analyst at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a core member of the Center for Health Systems and Policy Modeling. Prior to Hopkins, she was an Associate Health Policy Data Analyst in the Department of Health Policy at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine working on projects relating to Medicare spending growth. She also previously worked at the Tennessee Justice Center as a Client Advocate, where she helped individuals and families access their Medicaid health care benefits. Ms. Lou has a B.A. from Vanderbilt University.

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Christine P. Lai, PhD

Christine P. Lai, PhD, is an Assistant Scientist at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and a core member of HARP and the Center for Health Systems and Policy Modeling. Previously, Dr. Lai was the Principal Healthcare Data Analyst at the Department of Health Policy at the Vanderbilt University Medicine Center (VUMC). She was central to several projects that used the national longitudinal Medicare and Medicaid administrative and claims database, including work on value optimization for colorectal cancer screening in Medicare ACOs, analysis of Medicare spending growth, and Medicare’s “two-midnight” rule. She developed operational and real-time predictive models on hospital readmission and mortality of heart failure patients. VUMC administrative, clinical, and research personnel adopted and incorporated the models in daily patient services from 2018 to 2023. She has over ten years of experience in massive relational database management, statistical analysis, and predictive modeling.

Dr. Lai received a Bachelor of Social Science from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with an M.A. and a PhD in Economics from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

Kathryn Linehan, MPH, is an Associate Scientist at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Medicare policy Expert. Kathryn is a trusted health policy researcher with over 25 years of experience working on health care payment policy. She holds an MPH with a concentration in health policy and management from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Throughout her career, has conducted research with public and private-sector organizations dedicated to providing federal policymakers with timely, factual, unbiased analysis to inform coverage and health care payment policy. Kathryn is an expert in Medicare payment policy with a focus on post-acute care. She joins the Center for Health Systems and Policy Modeling from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) where she was a Principal Policy Analyst. 

Lauren da Fonte, MPH, PMP, is the Senior Program Manager for the Center for Health Systems and Policy Modeling (CHSPM) within the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Previously, Lauren held the role of Senior Program Manager at the Fund for Public Health in New York City, collaborating closely with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). In this capacity, she managed award allocations for the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) Cooperative Agreement. Lauren brings years of project management expertise and experience across multiple public health sectors to the CHSPM team. She first worked as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Associate stationed at NYC DOHMH's Bureau of Tuberculosis Control. She then transitioned to primary care where she served as Special Projects Manager at the Primary Care Development Corporation.

Lauren received her MPH in Health Policy and Management from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.