Welcome to the inaugural edition of HillTopic, Hilltop’s new blog. In occasional posts, Hilltop staff and advisers will share vignettes on our work and provide commentary on developments in state health policy. Comments are welcome and may be directed to the author or Marsha Willis.

The Value of State-University Partnerships

As a public university, UMBC is dedicated to integrating teaching, research, and service to benefit the citizens of Maryland. The Hilltop Institute—through our longstanding partnership with the Maryland Medicaid program and our mission to advance the health and wellbeing of people and communities through research and analysis—exemplifies UMBC’s commitment to public service.

Hilltop’s partnership with the Maryland Medicaid program is built on a foundation of mutual trust, a spirit of collaboration, and a shared commitment to increasing access to affordable and high-quality health care for all Marylanders. Since 1994, Hilltop has performed data-driven research and policy analysis for the Medicaid program to inform policymaking and support program development, operations, and evaluation. Today we are actively engaged in furthering health care financing and delivery system reform in Maryland and supporting implementation of the state’s Total Cost of Care Model.

A number of other partnerships between state Medicaid programs and public universities exist across the country. While similar to Hilltop, each is unique in its own way. What these partnerships have in common is a shared vision for a more equitable and robust publicly funded health care system. Hilltop has been privileged to work with state agency and university representatives from partnerships in 24 other states through our work as a founding member of AcademyHealth’s State-University Partnership Learning Network (SUPLN). Our annual meetings, collaboration calls, and frequent communications have engendered collegial relationships that have resulted in timely joint research investigations aimed at addressing salient state health policy issues such as the opioid crisis and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. SUPLN’s Medicaid Outcomes Distributed Research Network (MODRN) is enabling us to produce powerful cross-state Medicaid data analyses that were not previously possible.

In working with other SUPLN colleagues, we have come to better understand the attributes that distinguish a successful state-university partnership and the benefits that can accrue to both the state and the university. To capture these learnings, we have prepared briefs that articulate the value proposition for both the state agency and the public university. In partnership with the Millbank Memorial Fund and AcademyHealth, we are pleased to share the value propositions. Our hope is that these briefs will encourage additional states to pursue formation of partnerships. SUPLN stands by, ready to assist. The briefs can also provide guidance to existing partnerships on strengthening their roles and relationships and solidifying support within their states. Partnerships such as these have never been more important as we as a nation endeavor to ensure access to affordable health care and ensure all Americans good health and prosperity.

Cynthia H. Woodcock
Executive Director
The Hilltop Institute at UMBC
Chair, Steering Committee
AcademyHealth State-University Partnership Learning Network (SUPLN)


Hilltop continues to work remotely, so please reach us by email. You can find our team members’ email addresses by going to their bios located on the Teams page of our website.

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