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Melinda Beeuwkes Buntin Mike Curb Professor of Health Policy

Expert in health policy, particularly insurance and health care financing issues.


Melinda Buntin, is the chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She previously served as Deputy Assistant Director for Health at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), where she was responsible for managing and directing studies of health care and health care financing issues in the Health, Retirement, and Long-term analysis Division. Prior to joining CBO, Buntin worked at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, where she established and directed the economic analysis, evaluation, and modeling group, while on leave from RAND. At RAND, Buntin served as deputy director of RAND Health’s Economics, Financing, and Organization Program, director of Public Sector Initiatives for RAND Health, and co-director of the Bing Center for Health Economics. Her research at RAND focused on insurance benefit design, health insurance markets, provider payment, and the care use and needs of the elderly. She has an A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and a Ph.D. in Health Policy with a concentration in economics from Harvard University.

Media Appearances

Tennessee proposes Medicaid block grant funding

WSMV September 24, 2019
Changes could be on the way for Tennessee's Medicaid program.

Health Care Vitals: Nashville

Axios August 26, 2019
Dr. Melinda Buntin, Chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine on those who neither have the money for large care expenses nor qualify for free or low-income clinics: "The middle class has extraordinarily expensive care...and [they're] doing things on a shoestring."

‘If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It.’ Biden’s Invokes Obama’s Troubled Claim.

Kaiser Health News July 30, 2019
Biden’s proposal wouldn’t necessarily force insurers to cancel plans, said Melinda Buntin, health policy chair at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. But don’t expect the companies that buy insurance to sit still. “Employers — especially small businesses with lower-income workers — might choose to drop coverage if their employees would qualify for the public plan with more generous subsidies,” Buntin said.

Obamacare fight obscures America’s real health care crisis: Money

Politico April 03, 2019
Drug costs and surprise bills, which patients have to pay directly, “have been a way the public glimpses true health care costs,” said Melinda Buntin, chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “That information about how high these bills and these charges can be has raised awareness of health care costs — but it has people focused only on that part of the solution.”

Industry battles Medicare for All traction

Modern Healthcare April 27, 2019
The study predicted hospitals would resort to eliminating 1.5 million clinical and administrative jobs. That loss could make it harder for patients to get care. “Not only would they make less money, but they would really have to restructure the way they deliver care, and that would mean a big disruption to the industry. On average across the industry, about 70% of costs are labor, so you are talking about a lot of people’s jobs when you restructure costs,” said Melinda Buntin, chair of the health policy department at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who was not affiliated with the study.

Vanderbilt Researchers to Study Needs of Vulnerable Children

Associated Press November 19, 2018
Vanderbilt University is getting a $1.25 million grant to research the needs of some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable children. According to the school, the Policies for Action Research Hub at Vanderbilt will develop recommendations for helping the children of immigrant families and children with prenatal exposure to opioids. Melinda Buntin is chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and one of two principal investigators leading the hub. She said the choice of research topics was driven by some troubling statistics.

You'll be shocked at how much health insurance costs for a family of four

USA Today June 05, 2018
“The Milliman Medical Index is great because it gives you a snapshot of what people covered by employer-sponsored insurance get and what that coverage costs,” said Melinda Beeuwkes Buntin, a professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The index also estimates deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.