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HL20: Karen Davis, Economist—Healthcare is More Than a Numbers Game

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, January 10, 2014

The timing of her leadership at the Commonwealth Fund was particularly influential in the development and implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The foundation funded research focused on strategies to improve access to care and to help pay for that care by improving quality and lowering costs. The foundation's efforts timed particularly well with a Congress and a president willing to make health reform a national agenda priority.

"We had an opportunity to get the right information into the hands of those who can implement the change. The strategy was both in knowing how to anticipate the issues but also knowing at what time to have things ready. When the window of opportunity opened up and President Obama made the surprising decision to say to Congress 'You come up with a plan,' we had a plan ready when that moment in time came," says Davis.

In 2009, Davis was heavily involved maintaining the momentum of the PPACA. She moved to Washington, D.C., and worked with Congress on the implementation of the healthcare law, she says, responding to every invitation to attend briefs and meetings. Earning herself the nickname, "Johnny Appleseed," Davis traveled domestically during this time to "spread the message of innovation." She shared models of care she had witnessed internationally with leaders of large U.S. health systems to help establish best practices in this new era of reform.

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