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Founded in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assists Congress by preparing objective, nonpartisan analyses to aid in budgetary decisions. To do this, the CBO turns to its panel of health and economic advisers to examine frontier research in healthcare policy and other issues facing the nation.

David Meltzer, MD, PhD, FHM, a hospitalist and associate professor in the Department of Medicine and the Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago, was recently appointed to a two-year term on the CBO’s health advisory panel. We spoke with Dr. Meltzer to learn more about his appointment.

Question: Can you explain the purpose of your role as a health adviser for the Congressional Budget Office?

Answer: The general purpose of having health advisors to the CBO is to provide thorough advice on issues relevant to public policies that are being considered. It is a tool to help clarify CBO’s thinking before they make public statements.

Q: Why is your role as a hospitalist beneficial to the advisory board?

A: Obviously, a lot of policy takes place in the hospital setting—both in terms of costs and interventions, which affect people's outcomes. My training as a hospitalist shapes how I think about that. Being a hospitalist makes me aware of some of the challenges in coordinating this care. This is something that I bring to the CBO.

Q: What topics do you typically discuss during your meetings with the CBO?

A: While I can’t disclose what we specifically discuss in the CBO because of confidentiality reasons, I can say that the advice we give is mostly general in nature, but occasionally it can be about more specific issues at hand.

Q: What role does hospital medicine play within the CBO’s analysis of healthcare issues?

A: In general, a lot of the issues facing the healthcare system are about how to control healthcare costs while maintaining and controlling quality. Hospital medicine has been very involved in measuring and improving quality of care and the coordination of care in the inpatient and outpatient setting—a broad issue for the whole U.S. healthcare system.

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