The Listening Project, a signature activity of AcademyHealth's Translation and Dissemination Institute, seeks to identify the most pressing research needs of leaders in health policy and health care delivery for the coming three to five years. Its goal is to foster greater interaction among the producers, funders, and users of health services and policy research (HSR) and spur the production and use of timely, relevant evidence to improve health and health care. As such, it supports AcademyHealth's vision to improve health and health care by generating new knowledge and moving that knowledge into policy and practice. The first report in the Listening Project series was released in early 2014 and focused on research and data, to support Medicare policymaking. During the summer and fall of 2014, AcademyHealth staff conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with 53 state and federal policymakers, non-governmental experts, and other stakeholders regarding knowledge gaps and research needs related to Medicaid. Our interviewees included Medicaid agency staff from four states representing a diversity of sizes, geographic regions (Northeast, South, and West), political perspectives, and decisions on Medicaid expansion. To maintain the anonymity of our respondents and in keeping with our Institutional Review Board exemption, we do not provide more specific information about the states included in the interviews. Staff used qualitative data analysis techniques to identify and synthesize major themes, which were validated by an external review committee comprised of interviewees and content experts. The analysis that follows draws heavily on the use of verbatim quotes to illustrate each finding; in some cases, quotes were edited for grammar and length. While we do not identify interviewees by name or organization, we precede the verbatim quotes with information about the respondent's role relative to Medicaid, for example, as a state or federal policymaker, advocate, or researcher. The final analysis organized respondents' comments along four major themes: (1) research needs, (2) data gaps, (3) use of evidence to inform Medicaid policymaking, and (4) advice for researchers. As with the first Listening Project report, this document is not intended to be a research agenda nor the sole effort of its kind, but rather a starting point for discussion among the producers, users, and funders of research about opportunities to strengthen Medicaid research and policy moving forward. The full narrative of the 2015 Listening Project report, with expanded samples from respondent interviews, is available online at: www.academyhealth.org/listeningproject.
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