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Health care task force seeks community input

President Charles M. Vest announced the formation of the Task Force on Medical Care for the MIT Community, which held its first meeting Sept. 17.

Vest has asked the task force to "review and articulate the appropriate goals for MIT's programs to provide health care and health insurance to our undergraduate and graduate students, employees and retirees in terms of access to care, quality of care, and the costs of providing care."

In carrying out its work, the task force will review and assess how well current arrangements are achieving these goals. It will examine how other leading research universities provide health care and health insurance to their students, faculty and staff, and evaluate alternative models for achieving MIT's goals in the context of the health care resources available in the Boston area.

The task force, which is chaired by Professor Paul Joskow, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics, plans to make a set of recommendations to the president for how MIT can best achieve its goals for providing high-quality and cost-effective health care and health insurance to the MIT community.

"This is an appropriate time to perform a comprehensive review of MIT's health care and health insurance programs to ensure that they are well matched to the needs of the MIT community in light of the rapidly changing attributes of the health care services and their costs in the Boston area," said Joskow. "The task force will seek input from all segments of the community and will be especially interested in the insights that are offered by the staff of the MIT Medical department."

Faculty on the task force include Joskow, Mary Boyce (mechanical engineering), Gerald Fink (biology and the Whitehead Institute), Morris Halle (Institute Professor Emeritus, linguistics), Thomas Kochan (Sloan), and Nancy Rose (economics).

In addition, Larry Benedict (dean for student life), Alice Gast (vice president for research and associate provost), Marc Jones (assistant dean, School of Science), Alan Siegel (chief of mental health service at MIT Medical), and Joyce Yaffee (assistant to the director, Lincoln Laboratory) also have agreed to serve on the task force.

Student members are R. Erich Caulfield, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, and Lydia Chilton, a senior in economics.

The task force will be assisted in its work by an advisory committee. Members of that committee include Dr. David Blumenthal (Harvard Medical School and director, Institute for Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital), Dr. William Kettyle (medical director and head of MIT Medical), Paul Levy (president and CEO, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center), A. Neil Pappalardo (chairman and CEO, Meditech, and MIT Corporation member), and Dr. James Richter (chief medical officer and senior vice president, Caritas Christi Health Care).

Staff to the task force are Marianne Howard (director for human resources administration), Israel Ruiz (associate director, Office of Budget and Financial Planning), and Janet Snover (special assistant to the executive vice president).

A web site will be set up soon to inform community members about the work of the task force and provide a means for people to comment on issues or concerns relating to health care options at MIT. Until then, members of the community may send e-mail to to provide input to the task force.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 22, 2004 (download PDF).

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