Good morning everyone. Duke University’s Margolis Center for Health Policy has a very important (to me) bio page:
Research Associate, Health Policy Evidence Hub
My primary interests are currently examining Medicare end of life payment reform models and a personal interest in the distributional impacts of different health insurance reform proposals.
Insurance network design, benefit configuration, cost-sharing and policy analysis.
That is meat space me. Richard Mayhew has been a brash alter ego and pen name that I needed to use while I was employed in the insurance industry. My last day at UPMC Health Plan in Pittsburgh was right before Christmas. I’ve started at Duke this week.
It has been a strange trip. This entire process my wife has been chuckling at me. It is a bit odd.
I write extremely dry/technical material with and for a bunch of snarky liberals with a blue streak. I’ve written under a pen name for years in a place where the phrase “hookers and blow” routinely shows up as useful shorthand. This is not the typical career development path of someone who works at one of the world’s best universities.
It’s been a year long journey that still makes my wife shake her ahead in bemusement while I shake my head in amazement. She was always curious about the “what’s next ” was with my policy writing. I had been exploring the the “what’s next” for a while. December 2015 I was speaking with a group in DC that does some really interesting work but they needed something a little different than what I offered. But that process started the conversation between my wife and I regarding the stay or go decision parameters. We talked, and then we talked some more before talking some more. We developed a shared understanding of what we needed if we were to leave Pittsburgh. When Duke started the conversation, we knew our reservation criteria.
So how did this happen?
I had been getting frustrated at work so I tweeted a throw-away tweet:
Anyone hiring a health insurance and health policy nerd — I’m looking
— Richard Mayhew (@bjdickmayhew) October 3, 2016
I expected nothing from this tweet besides a bit of sympathy. I was wrong. By dinner time, I had half a dozen good leads. By the second cup of coffee the following day, I had a dozen leads and my wife looking at me funny. A few people I thanked after a short conversation while declining further investigation. A few leads led to a good meal and excellent conversation but no more. And then a few were really interesting.
Duke stood out to me. I was being chased hard and they made everything too easy. Duke has big projects tackling big problems. I would have a chance to work with a great team of people on personally and professionally fulfilling projects in a very supportive environment.
Sign me up… and so they did.
At the Margolis Center, I’ll be working with Don Taylor and his team as we tackle end of life and palliative care payment and process reforms for Medicare. My new job will be to take my industry experience and apply that perspective to system transformation where I can see both the obvious but impractical as well as the non-obvious and productive routes forward from an industry perspective. I’ll write some at Free for All and at the Margolis Medium channel. Both of those communication channels will be at a higher level of editing and refinement than Balloon Juice because the audience and intent of the communication is a bit different.
So what does this mean for “Richard Mayhew” now that Dave Anderson is at Duke?
I’ll be negotiating things as I go . Balloon Juice will still have health policy (and soccer) posts written under the Richard Mayhew pen name as that is where I have some brand equity. I’ll talk with John and Alain to create a Bio page with the appropriate disclaimers that everything here is my personal views and not those of any employers (current, past, and future). This as my scratchpad and home of first thoughts as it has been for the past three years. This is where I see something and start wrestling with it in public. Sometimes interesting things will emerge from that grappling. Other times, I’ll fall face first in the mud. I’m okay with that as it is the process of grappling with an idea and more importantly writing things down to clarify my thinking that has educated me and I hope has helped some of the community.
I also need to thank everyone here.
First and foremost, I need to thank John for giving me the keys to this place and letting me wander around with whatever I found interesting. He has done an amazing job of curating a community of eccentrics, curmudgeons, grumps and generally nice people. I also need to thank Tim F. I know Tim in real life. He was the person I approached in the summer of 2013 to write here. I thought I had maybe twenty or thirty posts and maybe 15,000 words in me. He bugged John to get me the keys and gave me the ground rules — show sympathy to cat pictures and write whatever I wanted.
I need to thank the community here. I get energy from everyone here. I get great ideas. I get ready access to a bunch of experts who are more than willing to share. I get purpose and meaning. I take a lot from you all and I try to give back. You’ve given me a place to publicly work through half formed thoughts and a place to listen to why an idea is idiotic or sounds nice but is impractical. You’ve given me a lot and I want to thank everyone for that.
I also really need to thank my wife. She puts up with this hobby. And when Duke came and made me say “WOW” she was on board with picking our family up to chase some of my dreams. So I just have to say thank you to my wife as I do the happy dance every morning that I get to spend my life with you.