In its first three years as a Policies for Action Research Hub, NYU’s Wagner School conducted a series of path-breaking studies examining connections between policies outside the health care system (primarily in the housing, transportation, and education sectors) and health. The glue holding these studies together was the hub’s unprecedented access to New York State (NYS) Medicaid data, containing records for over 6 million enrollees annually from 2006 to the present. By educating local policymakers about the rich potential of this data, the hub has begun to help these leaders formulate better, and bigger, questions about the health of those they serve.
Embarking on its next three years as a Research Hub, the team aims to extend their original portfolio (to include a stronger focus on housing instability, criminal justice, and education), and further advance the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s focus on healthy communities, by examining the effects of non-health policies on health in the context of place. This new substantive emphasis stems from growing evidence that the relationship between socioeconomic status and health outcomes is mediated by place. The ambitious research agenda will likely uncover the ways in which policy impact is mediated by community context, thus arming policymakers with the evidence they need to build tailored policy solutions across New York State and beyond.