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The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, based in Princeton, announced on Thursday that it has launched a new policy center committed to advancing the quality and cost-effectiveness of the state’s Medicaid program.

According to Linda Schwimmer, president and chief executive officer of NJHCQI, The Medicaid Policy Center will deliver independent research, analysis and policy solutions to improve health outcomes while also controlling costs. It will also work in partnership with other organizations and the state government agencies that operate the New Jersey Medicaid program, including the Department of Human Services – Office of Medicaid Innovation.

The MPC is funded by a grant from The Nicholson Foundation.

Quality Institute staff members Matt D’Oria, a former New Jersey Deputy Health Commissioner, and Kate Shamszad, who served as clinical director of Child Life and Integrative Care at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, will lead the center.

“The Medicaid program is essential to so many children, seniors and families in our state, and it’s a significant part of the state budget,” D’Oria said. “We are eager to support state decision makers and state officials as they work to improve the state’s Medicaid program for people today — and also to strengthen the program for the future.”

The new DHS office will provide a platform for collaboration with the MPC to improve the quality, delivery, and cost of care. Common focus areas include developing “alternative payment models and purchasing strategies that drive improvement in patient outcomes,” according to Schwimmer.

“The Department is delighted that the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, with support from The Nicholson Foundation, is creating a dedicated Medicaid Policy Center to help bring together thought leaders and expertise to inform our shared goal of strengthening and improving the quality and value of New Jersey’s Medicaid program,” said New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson, in a statement.

According to NJHCQI, New Jersey’s Medicaid program has a $17 billion annual budget, financed by Federal and State government, and accounts for nearly 20 percent of New Jersey’s state budget. To improve the program, the MPC will research health care delivery innovations, including patient-centered models that support and reward providers for good outcomes.