Job Opportunities


OPEN POSITION: PROGRAM ASSISTANT

WASHINGTON, D.C. OFFICE

THE COMMONWEALTH FUND

THE ORGANIZATION

The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for two groups of people: high-need and high-cost individuals – the sickest 5 percent of Americans who account for 50 percent of health care costs, and America’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, ethnic and racial minorities, and the elderly. The Fund carries out this mandate by supporting independent research on health care issues and making grants to improve health care practice and policy. In so doing, the Fund has become a national leader in investigation and policy development related to tracking the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, reforming the health care delivery system, international health policy and practice, cost control and Medicare. The Fund has an endowment of $700 million, and an annual budget of $32 million, approximately 60 percent if which is spent extramurally on grants and 40 percent intramurally on developing programs, conducting research, and communicating results to influential audiences.

SUMMARY POSITION DESCRIPTION

The Commonwealth Fund staff members located in Washington DC function in many respects as a team. The Program Assistant for the Washington DC Office reports to the Vice President, Federal and State Health Policy and supports three key DC-based initiatives:

  • Engaging Federal and State Health Policymakers
  • Advancing Medicare
  • Controlling Health Care Costs

The Program Assistant is an important member of this four person team, working closely with the Program Associate, Federal and State Health Policy and the two Vice Presidents in the Washington DC office, providing daily administrative support for the team. Responsibilities include administrative tasks, grant support and some research and writing as needed. The Program Assistant will cross-train with the Program Associate and will provide support to the Vice President, Federal and State Health Policy (dedicating approximately 75% of time to that initiative) and to the Vice President, Medicare & Cost Control (dedicating approximately 25% of time to these two initiatives). In addition, the Program Assistant will support New York-based Fund staff and other visitors to the DC office.

THE INITIATIVE ON ENGAGING FEDERAL AND STATE HEALTH POLICYMAKERS

If we as a nation are to achieve fundamental improvements in our health care system, federal and state policymakers need access to objective, evidence-based, actionable information. As the nation moves forward on health system transformation, both federal and state policy makers continue to play critical roles in expanding access to affordable insurance coverage, in designing, testing, and refining new ways to deliver and pay for health care, and in ensuring that health services are delivered efficiently and equitably. Continuing budgetary pressures, moreover, have forced federal and state officials alike to prioritize the search for ways to produce better health outcomes at lower cost.

The Commonwealth Fund’s Federal and State Health Policy initiative provides independent analysis of health care issues tailored for those serving in state and federal government. The Fund’s team helps to inform and educate congressional members and staff, officials in the executive branch, state policymakers, and the broader policy community—across the political spectrum—on issues central to achieving a high-performance health system.

Through the briefings, conferences, and retreats it sponsors, the Fund’s team also serves as a neutral convener, facilitating both state-to-state learning and communications between federal and state policymakers to inform policy deliberations and generate new solutions. Finally, the team also supports The Commonwealth Fund’s programmatic efforts to provide policymakers with timely, balanced, evidenced-based policy research and analysis.

THE INITIATIVE ON ADVANCING MEDICARE

For nearly five decades, Medicare has helped older adults and disabled people of all ages obtain the health care they need while protecting them from severe financial hardship. The Commonwealth Fund’s Advancing Medicare initiative identifies ways in which this crucial program―the largest single payer of health care services in the United States―can serve its beneficiaries more effectively and efficiently while helping to foster health system improvements nationwide. Medicare has enormous capacity to leverage broader change in U.S. health care. More than 50 million aged and disabled Americans access care through the program, which accounts for a large and growing share of the federal budget (the government spends nearly $600 billion on Medicare benefits annually, accounting for 18 percent of total federal non-interest spending). And with the creation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Medicare has a key role in the development, implementation, evaluation, and spread of innovative models of health care organization, delivery, and payment—not only for Medicare, but for other federal and state health insurance programs and private payers, too. As Medicare approaches its 50th anniversary in 2015, The Commonwealth Fund will be studying potential solutions to the issues facing the program. The Fund and its grantees will examine how Medicare can:

  • Improve access to care needed by aged and disabled beneficiaries.
  • Lower program costs.
  • Assess and disseminate innovations in care delivery and provider payment throughout the program and the entire health system.
  • Improve coordination between Medicare and other public programs, like Medicaid.
  • Work together with private insurers, particularly as the new state insurance marketplaces open for business.

Success in each of these areas will help ensure that Medicare remains a vital force in our nation’s health care.

CONTROLLING HEALTH CARE COSTS INITIATIVE

The U.S. health care system is by far the most expensive in the world, consuming 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. That is 50% higher than the share of GDP that is devoted to health care in the second-most-expensive country (the Netherlands) and double that in many other high-income countries. Despite all of that spending, health outcomes for Americans are often worse, while evidence of waste and inefficiency throughout the U.S. health system abounds. Evidence also shows that U.S. prices are out of line with what other developed nations pay for the same medical services, devices, and pharmaceuticals―even those produced in the United States sold on global markets. All this excess spending is putting a strain on businesses, governments, and household budgets―diverting resources away from investments in jobs, education, and other social and economic needs. The Commonwealth Fund’s Controlling Health Costs initiative monitors and analyzes spending in both the public and private health care sectors. It seeks answers to two central questions:

  • What is driving higher or lower costs and spending in health care markets across the country?
  • What policy reforms, innovations in care delivery, or changes in provider payment have the potential to reduce costs while improving outcomes in all regions?

Patients with the highest and costliest health care needs, such as people with multiple chronic conditions, are a particular emphasis of the initiative. Research efforts also focus on the cost impact of new medical technologies and changing demographics, as well as the role of prices, treatment patterns, and resource use. It is hoped that findings from these and other analyses will inform new approaches to controlling costs that yield far better value for our health care dollars.

SPECIFIC RESPONSIBILITIES

General Administrative Support (30%)

  • Provides administrative support for the Vice Presidents and all three Fund initiatives including managing: calendar, telephone, travel arrangements, meetings, expense reports, correspondence, and distribution of program work.
  • Arranges appointments and scheduling of in-house meetings, which includes reserving meeting rooms and arranging for food, beverage, and audiovisual needs.
  • Prepares materials, slides, and charts for internal meetings, including the annual program plan meetings, communication updates to the board, project briefing meetings, and proposal review meetings.
  • Prepares materials, slides, and charts for external meetings and presentations. This involves Internet and library research and assembling materials and detailed information about projects in the program areas.

Grants Management (35%)

  • Manages all aspects of the grant process: preparation of proposed Board-level Grants, proposed Small Grants, payment and review schedules, and letters of agreement; tracking of program and grantee products, including papers and conferences, and scheduling grant payments accordingly; helps plan meetings, forums or conferences related to grantee work, and helps to maintain overall fund-grantee relationships. Responsible for streamlining grant tracking methods and communication between the program and grantees to ensure timeliness of reports and products.
  • Assists in the development of grant proposals and budgets and in the preparation of project write-ups for board meetings three times a year. This involves communicating with potential grantees, conducting background research on the proposal topics, assisting in internal reviews of proposals, and preparing summaries of grant proposals for the Board. This position works closely with staff in the grants management office in New York. It also liaises with the program support staff in New York on work that the Vice President, Medicare and Cost Control shares with the Assistant Vice President, Cost Control.
  • Acts as a liaison with Communications to ensure the dissemination of all grant products, including: coordinating the review of draft grantee publications by Fund staff and the promotion of grantee-published articles; drafting language for the Fund website that publicizes grantee work; developing web-based grant products for placement or promotion on the Fund website; reviewing and providing program updates to the Fund website as needed; coordinating with grantees and Communications staff to produce webinars, podcasts, and other multimedia to promote grantee work.

Research and Analysis (20%)

  • Conducts background research in this Fund program area, including literature reviews, Internet searches and tracking journals, working papers, legislative developments and public coverage of health policy issues. In addition, secures reports from Federal and private.
  • Corresponds with current and prospective grantees, consultants, and experts reviewing proposed projects; assembles and provides materials on Fund programs, projects, and other activities as requested by grantees and other individuals.
  • Provides research and writing support for Fund publications. This work includes: preparing tables and charts as well as drafting summaries of grantee or Fund reports.
  • Conducts data analysis and compiles information from the peer-reviewed literature, grantee reports, and other studies, in support of writing and speaking commitments by the Vice President. May be called upon to attend meetings and manage the presentation process.

Additional Duties (15%)

  • This position also supports the Vice Presidents in their roles as Team Coordinators for the initiatives, with additional responsibility for:
    • Coordinating all program officer activities within this program and across teams
    • Developing and maintaining the work plan for the program
    • Convening program team meetings
    • Representing the program internally to the executive management team

The Fund’s philosophy on successful performance in the job includes the willingness on the part of all staff members to handle any assignment necessary to further the goals of the institution. This may include taking on responsibility for other program areas or departments if the need arises.

QUALIFICATIONS

College degree and one or more years related work experience. Interest in health policy is essential. Preference will be given to applicants with prior administrative and research experience. Preference also will be given to those with undergraduate course work or major in a social science or public policy, and experience writing for public audiences.

Candidates must have strong organizational and administrative skills as well as excellent writing and analytic skills. The ability to manage and work on multiple tasks, work with budgets, and prepare graphics and tabular data presentations is expected. Flexibility and skill in working as a team member are a must as the position requires working in a high demand, multiple task environment with changing priorities. Being able to prioritize work assignments coming in from two Vice Presidents with changing timelines and expectations will be a large part of the position’s challenge. While the program associate will be available to raise issues when conflicts arise, the successful program assistant will have the ability to work well in this type of environment. The successful candidate will be intellectually curious and able to gather, assess and synthesize information from various sources.

Requirements include: excellent written communication skills, strong computer skills, including knowledge of the Windows Office Suite of products and a Salesforce database system, Outlook Exchange, and the Internet. Familiarity with SAS or similar statistical software is a plus. Candidates must be willing to learn new computer skills as necessary to work with the Fund’s web site and surveys and the candidate must have an interest in and strong commitment to the Fund's mission and current grants programs.

The Fund has a relatively small staff, and judgment, integrity, and the ability to listen with sensitivity to others are traits that are particularly important in an organization of the Fund’s size, where teamwork is essential to effectiveness. The ability to work collegially with a variety of Fund staff and interest in and strong commitment to the Fund’s mission and grants programs are key qualifications.  

COMPENSATION

Commensurate with background and experience. The Fund offers an excellent benefits package (medical/dental insurance, life/disability insurance, a defined contribution retirement plan, tuition reimbursement and ample paid time off).

CONTACT

Send resume and cover letter via e-mail to:  dd@cmwf.org

Diana Davenport
Vice President, Administration
The Commonwealth Fund
One East 75th Street
New York, NY 10021-2692

The Commonwealth Fund values diversity and is committed to the recruitment and retention of individuals of diverse backgrounds, sex, race, religion, and sexual orientation.