Rachel Nuzum, The Commonwealth Fund

TITLE: Vice President, Federal and State Health Policy

FUNDING AREAS: Health, healthcare, health policy, health policy analysis, Affordable Care Act implementation

CONTACT: rn@cmwf.org, 212-606-3800

IP TAKE: Nuzum's background is in the politics and policy surrounding healthcare in the United States. At The Commonwealth Fund, she and her team sponsor projects that blend legislative action with healthcare expansion. 

PROFILE: Rachel Nuzum is Hill-savvy. And she uses her influence, as the Vice President for Federal and State Health Policy at The Commonwealth Fund, to affect change in Congress. No small feat, in today's contentious political environment, but Nuzum—thanks to some wise investments and partnerships—is working hard to impact the direction of health policy in the United States. (Check out her Capitol Hill testimonies here.)

The Commonwealth Fund, endowed with over $700 million, is committed to a "high performance health system." The fund goes about improving American healthcare through grants in a range of program areas, such as long-term care improvement, care for vulnerable populations, affordable health insurance, and— Nuzum's area—federal and state health policy. The individual projects The Commonwealth Fund sponsors are ambitious, or at least expensive. In general, the fund's investments are well over $100,000 (and some close to or over $1 million).

Nuzum, a Washingtonian and adjunct professor at Georgetown University, comes to The Commonwealth Fund after spending years on Capitol Hill. She got her start there thanks to a David A. Winston Policy Fellowship—a program that sends promising young graduate students to Washington to work with experts and policymakers at the forefront of health policy. As part of her fellowship, Nuzum worked for a U.S. Senator (Jeff Bingaman from New Mexico, more specifically) on health aspects of his legislative portfolio, and it seems as if that's where she found her calling. Because since that job, Nuzum has not stopped operating at the intersection of health wonkery and congressional affairs.

At The Commonwealth Fund, Nuzum's ongoing projects are pretty legislatively oriented. Among them:

  • An annual bipartisan Congressional retreat on health policy, designed to give members a chance to discuss healthcare in a constructive environment with minimal politicization.
  • An annual bipartisan Congressional health policy conference, which does much the same thing as the project noted in the bullet above, but with more policy experts and healthcare practicioners and people who actually work on American wellness day-to-day.
  • A program to facilitate communication among state and federal officials on Medicaid expansion and healthcare reform implementation

Nuzum provides insights into her policy priorities on The Commonwealth Fund blog. She doesn't post often, but what she does write is serious, lengthy, and well-researched. One piece: "The Value of Strong Primary Care," where Nuzum and her colleague Jordan Kiszla discuss how the "medical home" concept—in which a team of medical professionals offer coordinated care around the clock—might facilitate the provision of primary care for an American populace that, by an large, lacks a comprehensive care system. 

Nuzum also shares her views on health policy on Twitter (see below), where she's fairly active in discussing the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act. 

Going forward, Nuzum's team is focused on funding projects at the "intersection of federal and state health policy in implementation of the Affordable Care Act and in efforts to improve healthcare delivery in the United States." If you're a non-profit working in these particular areas, and are looking for cash to support your operations, The Commonwealth Fund accepts letters of inquiry, rather than full grant applications, on a rolling basis throughout the year.