Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Population Health & Health Policy

The Population Health and Health Policy (PHHP) program at the Cutler Institute conducts policy-driven research, evaluation, policy analysis and technical assistance focusing on the public health system and the delivery of healthcare services.

PHHP People

Areas of Focus


Healthcare Access, Quality, & Financing

Our team of researchers develops, manages, and evaluates federal, state, local and foundation initiatives that test innovative and practical solutions to address access to healthcare, improve the quality and safety of healthcare across multiple settings, and inform the complex dynamics of health services cost-efficiency and value. Contact Erika Ziller for more information.


Public Health Systems & Practice

Our team of practitioners, researchers, and evaluators focus this body of work on the evaluation of public health initiatives; assessment of performance and quality; improvement of programs and service delivery; development of tools and measures; and preparation for accreditation. Contact Brenda Joly for more information.


Maine Public Health Institute

The Maine Public Health Institute informs health and public health policy and system development through research, policy analysis, technical assistance and training, and is committed to effectively integrating the science, tools, and practices of public health and healthcare management to improve access, population health outcomes, and heathcare cost efficiencies. Contact Brenda Joly or Andy Coburn for more information.


Rural couple at mailbox on dirt roadRural Health

Rural health is one of the primary areas of research and policy analysis within the Cutler Institute, addressing critical, policy-relevant issues in healthcare access and financing, rural hospitals, and behavioral heath. Contact Andrew Coburn for more information.


PHHP Projects

PHHP Publications

Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system

Marty Zanghi

USM's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy has been awarded a $600,000 grant to help young people raised in Maine's foster system to prepare for college and the workforce.

The money comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of a $5.4 million national effort aimed at youth who are homeless or in either the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

"Many of these young people have suffered abuse or trauma and were raised in poverty and neglect," said Marty Zanghi, the Cutler Center's youth development director.

The money -- including an expected $400,000 more in matching funds -- will pay for contracted work with agencies in the target areas, starting with the greater Portland area and Penobscot, Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Nationally and in Maine, only about 3 percent of people who grow up in the foster care system achieve a college degree, he said.

"It's dramatically lower than the rate for the general population," Zanghi said. "It's a horrible outcome."

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

"There are young people that overcome these circumstances," he said. "I know people who have master's degrees and Ph.Ds."

The Casey Foundation's national effort is being called the "Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential" (LEAP) initiative.

The initiative is working on partnerships in Maine and nine other areas: Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. In each case, people will adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including support to address the trauma they may have experienced in their lives.

In Maine, the work will include a pair of successful programs, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) and Jobs for the Future. Results will be carefully tracked, Zanghi said.

After the first year, the program is expected to grow.

"Eventually, the additional help will be available to all children, 14 and over, in the foster care system in the state of Maine," Zanghi said.

New Chartbook on the Use of Maine's Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS)

Long Term Services and Supports Cover page image

Long term services and supports (LTSS) are a vital lifeline for the thousands of Maine adults who need them, and they account for a significant portion of the state's Medicaid (MaineCare) budget.This Chartbook prepared by the research staff at the USM Muskie School, provides information on all Maine adults who use LTSS: older adults; adults with physical disabilities; adults with intellectual disabilities/autism spectrum disorder or other related conditions; and adults with acquired brain injury.

The information provided in this Chartbook about the demographic trends that impact Maine's service system as well as data on the typical MaineCare service utilization and expenditures of different LTSS populations will inform the discussion among policymakers, providers, consumers, and advocates as they work together to ensure that Maine’s system of LTSS meets the needs of all its citizens.

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