Health Research & Policy Center

The AIR Health Research & Policy Center focuses on identifying and answering important and timely questions about the cost and quality of care, people’s access to care, and health disparities, among other pressing policy issues.
Diverse group of researchers

Our Work | Health Research & Policy Center

Spanning health research and policy topics from costs and quality to access and equity, AIR Health Research & Policy Center researchers are working to identify important spending and utilization trends and promising policy interventions using leading-edge data science and technology tools.

Ongoing center research includes examining:

  • Social determinants of health and access to oncology care among Medicare beneficiaries;
  • Health care utilization and spending trends among Medicare beneficiaries with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, including use of telehealth services and antipsychotic drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Inequities in Medicaid home and community-based services; 
  • Medicaid and maternal health; and
  • Drug policy, use, and costs.

Explore our current work below.

Drug Policy

Pharmacists and client looking at prices

Could Biosimilars Help Rein in Prescription Drug Costs?

Biological drugs, or biologics, are innovative therapies for people with debilitating and life-threatening diseases, but these drugs are expensive. In this Q&A, AIR’s Thiyagu Rajakannan, senior researcher and lead for Drug Coverage and Payment Practice in the Health Division at AIR, explains how lower-cost versions of these drugs and promising market, regulatory, and policy developments could ease the financial burden.

Biosimilars and Cost Saving: Will Interchangeable Biosimilars Do to Biologics What Generic Drugs Did to Brand Name Medications?

In this brief, AIR's Thiyagu Rajakannan, Merton Lee, and Ilene Harris discuss the introduction of interchangeable biosimilars, a generic form of biologics, as well as efforts to encourage their use, particularly in Medicare.


Pandemic Disproportionately Drove Dually Eligible Medicare-Medicaid Beneficiaries to Skilled Nursing Facilities: Lessons from COVID-19

Using claims data before and during the COVID-19 pandemic (2017–21), this analysis examined skilled nursing facility admissions among Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries and found that those who were dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid were more severely affected by the COVID public health emergency and had a more challenging recovery than Medicare-only beneficiaries.

Female pharmacist helping a senior customer

No Signs COVID Disrupted Hypertension Medication Adherence for Medicare Beneficiaries, but Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persisted

Findings from this brief suggest that steps by Medicare to relax prescribing requirements during the pandemic, such as allowing early refills and larger quantities of medication, likely helped maintain medication adherence for high blood pressure and prevent racial and ethnic disparities in adherence from worsening.

Telehealth for Medicare Beneficiaries with Chronic Conditions: No Panacea for COVID-19 Pandemic Access Challenges

Despite rapid growth spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth visits offset less than half of the decline in in-person visits for elderly Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries five chronic conditions, according to this AIR study that used Medicare claims data. Additional research is needed to assess the impact of ending telehealth flexibilities on equitable healthcare access and quality.

Older male patient with doctor, both wearing masks

Steep but Short: COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Spending Drop for Medicare Beneficiaries with Chronic Conditions

This study examined how spending for different categories of Medicare services—inpatient, hospital outpatient, and professional providers, including physicians, physician assistants, clinical social workers, and nurse practitioners—changed from the start of the pandemic through the end of 2021.


Close-up of mother kissing baby

State Uptake of Medicaid Postpartum Extension Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) gave states an opportunity to permanently expand postpartum coverage through a State Plan Amendment as of April 1, 2022. Building on work that started as part of a National Evaluation, AIR summarized state uptake of that option through an environmental scan and descriptive analyses.

Assessment of State Planning Grants for Community-Based Mobile Crisis Intervention Services Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awarded 20 states planning grants to increase their capacity to provide community-based mobile crisis intervention services for Medicaid individuals. Building on work that started as part of an American Rescue Plan National Evaluation, AIR summarized awardee state use of planning grants through a systematic document review.

Revisiting the Connection Between State Medicaid Expansions and Adult Mortality

The purpose of this journal article was to examine the effect of the largest state Medicaid expansions in the 1990s and 2000s on all-cause, healthcare-amenable, non-healthcare-amenable, and HIV-related adult mortality using state level mortality data. The authors found no evidence that Medicaid expansions affect any of the outcomes in any of the treated states or all of them combined.

Woman in labor with husband and doula

Advancing Perinatal Health Equity Through Medicaid Coverage of Doulas

Each year, thousands of birthing people experience negative outcomes during and after childbirth that result in significant consequences to their health and well-being. Health policy researchers from AIR investigated policy considerations for states offering or considering Medicaid coverage of doulas to address those inequities and advance perinatal health equity.

State Policy Study on the Impact of State Medicaid Coverage of Abortion on People Seeking Care

To learn what happens to prices, patients, and procedures in states permitting or discontinuing the use of state Medicaid funds for abortion care, AIR gathered data from abortion providers and stakeholders in three states: two authorized to continue and one that discontinued state Medicaid coverage of abortion care.