Contact: Christopher Fleming, Health Affairs
Contact: Adam Coyne, RWJF
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, April, 29, 2009

Health Affairs And Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Launch New Health Policy Briefs

Bethesda, MD -- Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today released the first in a new series of Health Policy Briefs, aimed at providing clear, accessible overviews of timely and important health policy topics. The first brief explores the current debate over cutting payments to "Medicare Advantage" plans -- the privately run health plans that now serve almost a quarter of Medicare enrollees.

Health Policy Briefs will be available for free on the Health Affairs Web site, at They will also be available via a direct link from RWJF’s Web site, at

The briefs, produced by Health Affairs through a grant from the foundation, will allow policymakers, journalists, and others to quickly review research published in Health Affairs and other key sources. They are designed to play a critical role in providing background on various policy proposals as health reform discussions proceed. The briefs will explore competing arguments made on various sides of a policy proposal and point out wherever possible the relevant research behind each perspective. For example, the first, on Medicare Advantage, not only explains how payments to private plans are calculated, but also delineates the arguments and points to research on both sides of the issue of cutting plan payments.

 "We are very happy to be working in partnership with Health Affairs to launch these policy briefs," said the foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA. "The briefs will help ensure that health policy making is based on the best available evidence, and there has never been a time when that was more important."

"The mission of Health Affairs has always been to publish the best health policy research and present it in accessible form to the people who are at the forefront of shaping health policy," said Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer. "Health Policy Briefs are a natural outgrowth of this mission. We’re grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the support that made this new endeavor possible."

Health Policy Briefs are written by Health Affairs Senior Writer Susan Jaffe and reviewed by distinguished Health Affairs authors and other outside experts. Robert A. Berenson, MD, Senior Fellow of the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, and Marsha Gold, PhD, Senior Fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, provided expert review of the first brief on Medicare Advantage.


Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears bimonthly in print, with additional online-only papers published weekly as Health Affairs Web Exclusives at


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime.

©2009 Project HOPE–The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.