Pamela Riley, The Commonwealth Fund

TITLE: Assistant Vice President, Delivery System Reform

FUNDING AREAS: Health care for vulnerable populations

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

IP TAKE: Riley and her team seek to fund projects that improve health-care access and quality for low-income, uninsured, and minority groups in the United States.

PROFILE: Based in New York, with additional offices in Washington, D.C., The Commonwealth Fund has as its mission the improvement of health care in the United States. The group has been around in some form since 1918, when Anna Harkness, widow of a harness maker turned successful businessman, founded the fund with the intention that it "do something for the welfare of mankind." That statement resulted in a long history of sponsoring medical facilities, training, and hospitals throughout the 20th century. In the modern era, The Commonwealth Fund continues its decades-long mission to improve mankind's welfare, particularly as it pertains to America's medical concerns.

Pamela Riley is assistant vice president at The Commonwealth Fund after starting there as a senior program officer. She specializes in work related to the care of vulnerable populations. Before coming to the fund, Riley was a pediatrician with an abiding interest in policy formulation. She served on various health policy task forces and earned an impressive list of fellowships and other awards in the field of public health.

Riley is a graduate of UCLA's medical school and completed her internship and residency in pediatrics at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She gave a 2011 interview to Harbor-UCLA Pediatrics in which she offers her own views on American health policy, including what she sees as weaknesses in the Affordable Care Act:

I believe one of the most important lessons learned will be that more should have been done in the health care reform law to cover the uninsured. An entire population — undocumented immigrants — should not have been systematically excluded from the coverage expansions in the Affordable Care Act. If these groups are not receiving timely primary and preventive care, they may not only experience poor health outcomes, but providing care to them may cost the health care system more in the long run.

Riley's passion for getting quality health care to underserved groups, which comes through so clearly in her interview, makes her a great person to have in charge of vulnerable-population issues at a major organization working to improve America's health policy and health-care access.

The Commonwealth Fund typically gives about 10 grants a year in the area of vulnerable populations, with grants ranging from just over fifteen grand to close to a quarter of a million dollars. A few recent ones:

  • $76,865 to health-care data group Dougherty Management Associates, Inc. to research and make recommendations about how vulnerable populations can take advantage of expanded coverage made available—if not necessarily accessible—to them under the Affordable Care Act
  • $233,455 to health policy researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change who will study systematic barriers Medicaid patients have in receiving specialized medical care and make policy recommendations about how those barriers can be fixed
  • $19,875 to Massachusetts General Hospital  to support a "Healthcare Quality and Equity Action Forum," an annual conference, begun in 2012, on reducing inequities in U.S. health care

Interested parties can apply to The Commonwealth Fund for grants in several health-related areas, vulnerable populations being only one of those. Information on getting grant funding is here