Kathyrn Langwell

October 1, 2009

Kathryn Langwell is the president of Sundance Research Institute, a non-profit organization that provides support and technical assistance to Tribes and Tribal organizations to assist them identify community needs and resources and develop innovative strategies for addressing priorities. Ms. Langwell has more than 30 years of experience in designing and conducting research, demonstration projects, and evaluations of health care policy issues. Her research interests span a variety of topics, including health insurance coverage and the uninsured, Medicare and Medicaid coverage and expenditures, the impacts of cost containment strategies on health spending, and rural health care. Most recently, Ms. Langwell’s research efforts have focused on the role of access and financing barriers on racial and ethnic health disparities, particularly for American Indians.

Ms. Langwell holds a M.A. in economics from the University of Southern California. Between 1982 and 1989, she was a senior research director at Mathematica Policy Research. Following this position, Ms. Langwell served as Deputy Assistant Director for Health at the U.S. Congressional Budget Office. Prior to joining the Sundance Research Institute, she was managing director of the Health Policy Practice at Barents Group/KMPG Consulting, Inc. from 1993 to 2001. Ms. Langwell served as project director and principal investigator for several large multi-year program evaluations for both federal agencies and private foundations, and has published extensively on a range of topics including managed care performance and operations, competition in the market for health care, physician payment systems, health labor markets, and health disparities.

Between September 2007 and 2008, Ms. Langwell was the principal investigator on a HCFO-funded grant “Financing American Indian Health Care: Impacts and Options for Improving Access and Quality of Care.” She and her team examined health care access and quality of care for American Indians who receive care through the Indian Health Service (IHS). The project examined the level of financing of Indian health and the impacts of financing and organization on access to and quality of care. It also developed options for improving access and quality for American Indian heath care and analyzed the feasibility and costs of these options. The goal of this project was “to contribute to the understanding of the impact of current financing and organization of the Indian Health Service on access and quality, and the contribution of these factors to the health disparities experienced by this population,” says Langwell.

Through conducting this research, Ms. Langwell and her team found that Indian Health Service per patient funding was less than half of national per capita health spending, and declined further between 2003 and 2006. Additionally, under-funding of the IHS system has lead to explicit rationing of services to American Indian/Alaska Native patients. When analyzing options for improving access and quality for American Indian health care, the research team found that options to increase the funding for Indian health care exist, but would impose higher costs on Federal and State budgets and are unlikely to be feasible in the current economic environment. To read more about Ms. Langwell’s study and findings, visit the October 2009 findings brief, "Financing American Indian Healthcare: Impacts and Options for Improving Access and Quality."

For more information about Ms. Langwell and her research, please visit http://www.sundanceresearchinstitute.org/Bio_Kathryn_Langwell.aspx.