Donald Taylor, Ph.D.

October 19, 2012

Donald Taylor, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Public Policy at Duke University. His research interests include end-of-life policy and long-term care with a focus on patient decision making and Medicare hospice policy. Dr. Taylor has published numerous peer reviewed articles and co-authored two books. His papers have appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, Health Affairs, The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, The Journal of Palliative Care, the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care, and Social Science and Medicine. Dr. Taylor also writes the blog freeforall, which focuses on health policy, the federal budget, and the politics surrounding these key public policy issues. Dr. Taylor holds three degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including a Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management from the School of Public Health, a Master of Public Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in Public Health.

Dr. Taylor has led two HCFO studies. His first grant concluded in 2006 and assessed whether hospice saves money for the Medicare program. The objective of this study was to inform policymakers about key issues that affect hospice care costs, including length of stay, underlying disease, and the propensity of hospice and non-hospice patients to use health care services. Dr. Taylor reported his findings in three publications. In Social Science and Medicine (2007), Dr. Taylor and colleagues found that hospice use reduced Medicare program expenditures during the last year of life by an average of $2,309 per hospice user. The researchers also reported in The Journal of Palliative Care (2009) that patients with formal in-home care were more likely to enroll in hospice prior to death, compared with patients with informal home caregivers. This finding suggests that access barriers to hospice care need further investigation. Further work in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (2008) showed that patients discharged alive from hospice, or discharges of individuals not continuously enrolled in hospice until death, suggest different motivations for these discharges. This finding provides more evidence that the Medicare hospice benefit needs to be updated to reflect the evolving needs of patients.

In his current HCFO grant, “Identifying the Use, Cost, and Quality Tradeoff in the Medicare Hospice Benefit,” Dr. Taylor is investigating the relationship between use, quality and cost of palliative care across the settings in which this care is delivered. The objective of the study is to focus on quality and cost concurrently in assessing the value of palliative care and to help inform policy around the development of sustainable financing mechanisms for this care. While the primary analyses from this project are still underway, the first paper looking at the history of Medicare as an innovator in hospice has recently been published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (2012).

Taylor has an active blog and social media presence, writing often about hospice policy as it relates to Medicare, policy challenges, premium support, and international comparisons.

For more information on Dr. Taylor and his research, please visit his website at Duke University: