For his pioneering role in national health policy and health services research, the National Academy of Medicine today announced Stuart Altman is the recipient of the 2018 Gustav O. Lienhard Award for Advancement of Health Care. The award, which recognizes Altman’s achievements with a medal and $40,000, will be presented at the National Academy of Medicine’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 15. Altman is Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Over the last 50 years as an economist, Altman has helped improve the health insurance system in the U.S. and the efficiency of its delivery system. Altman has demonstrated leadership through service on several federal and state government advisory boards, beginning with his role as deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation/health at the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare under the Nixon administration. His work in this role helped spur the growth of comprehensive managed care plans and funded an important study measuring the impact of cost sharing on medical service use. Altman has acted as adviser to five U.S. presidential administrations in total.
During his time at Brandeis University, Altman founded the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy, a research center best known for developing the Social HMO, which integrated financing for acute services, long-term care, and social supports to provide more effective coordinated care for elderly adults. To facilitate better research to support health policy decision-making, Altman and colleagues formed the Association for Health Services Research in 1981. Now AcademyHealth, the organization has more than 4,000 members and hosts a prominent U.S. health services research conference.
Altman served as chairman of ProPAC, an independent commission to advise Congress on Medicare payment policy. Under his leadership, ProPAC became a widely respected source for unbiased, impactful analysis, and its recommendations frequently led to important policy changes. In addition to his leadership in national health policy, Altman’s work as chairman of the Health Policy Commission in Massachusetts led to reports and recommendations that are considered a model approach for states trying to control health spending but averse to regulating it directly.
“With his deep understanding in a wide array of issues across the U.S. health care system and expertise in Medicare policy, Dr. Altman has been an exceptional leader and staunch advocate of high-quality, objective analysis and health services research to guide policy and create a more fair and effective health care system,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “His work has made an important impact on the health care of our nation. He is most deserving of this prestigious award.”
Altman is the 33rd recipient of the Lienhard Award. Given annually, the award recognizes outstanding national achievement in improving personal health care in the United States. Nominees are eligible for consideration without regard to education or profession, and award recipients are selected by a committee of experts convened by the Academy. This year’s selection committee was chaired by Glenn D. Steele, chairman, GSteele Health Solutions.
The Lienhard Award is funded by an endowment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Gustav O. Lienhard was chair of the foundation’s board of trustees from the organization’s establishment in 1971 to his retirement in 1986 — a period in which the foundation moved to the forefront of American philanthropy in health care. Lienhard, who died in 1987, built his career with Johnson & Johnson, beginning as an accountant and retiring 39 years later as its president.
The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine, is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields including health and medicine; the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; and beyond. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the nation and the international community. Through its domestic and global initiatives, the NAM works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy and inspire positive action across sectors. The NAM collaborates closely with its peer academies and other divisions within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
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