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Charley Willison

Postdoctoral Fellow in Health Care Policy, Harvard University
Chapter Member: Boston SSN

About Charley

Willison's research focuses on homelessness, mental health and disaster response. Overarching themes in Willison's work include urban politics, intergovernmental relations and federalism. Willison serves governmental and civic groups, as well as governance outreach and communication. Willison has conducted multiple policy evaluations with state and local governments.


Successfully Addressing Coronavirus and Homelessness

In the News

Charley Willison quoted by Patricia Mazzei, "Hunger and an ‘Abandoned’ Hospital: Puerto Rico Waits as Washington Bickers" New York Times, April 7, 2019.
"Democracy Is a Public Health Policy: Puerto Rico and the Response to Hurricane Maria," Charley Willison (with Scott L. Greer, Phillip M. Singer, and Melissa S. Creary), The BMJ Opinion, April 4, 2019.


"Quantifying Inequities in US Federal Response to Hurricane Disaster in Texas and Florida Compared With Puerto Rico" (with Phillip M. Singer, Melissa S. Creary, and Scott L. Greer). BMJ Journal Health 4, no. 1 (2019).

If disaster responses vary in their effectiveness across communities, health equity is affected. Aims to evaluate and describe variation in the federal disaster responses to 2017 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, compared with the need and severity of storm damage through a retrospective analysis.

"Medicaid Waivers: Public Health Consequences Under the Trump Administration" (with Phillip M. Singer). American Journal of Public Health 109, no. 6 (2019).

The election of Donald Trump has led to a dramatic shift in how states are using Section 1115 waivers in Medicaid and raises serious concerns for these programs, their populations, and public health. Waivers have been an important policy tool allowing states to modify, with federal approval, their Medicaid programs. States are increasingly modifying Medicaid programs to emphasize personal responsibility for low-income groups.

"Double-edged Sword of Federalism: Variation in Essential Health Benefits for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Coverage in States" (with Phillip M. Singer and Kyle L. Grazier). National Library of Medicine (2020): 1-13.

The Affordable Care Act requires all insurance plans sold on health insurance marketplaces and individual and small-group plans to cover 10 Essential Health Benefits (EHB), including behavioral health services. Instead of applying a uniform EHB plan design, the Department of Health and Human Services let states define their own EHB plan. Limited federal oversight runs the risk of variation in EHB coverage definitions and requirements.

"Shelter From the Storm: Roles, Responsibilities, and Challenges in United States Housing Policy Governance" PubMed 121, no. 11 (2017): 1113-1123..

Housing is a critical social determinant of health. Housing policy not only affects health by improving housing quality, affordability, and insecurity; housing policy affects health upstream through the politics that shape housing policy design, implementation, and management. This paper is an overview of challenges in housing policy governance in the United States, and why housing policy governance matters for health.

"Repealing the Affordable Care Act Essential Health Benefits: Threats and Obstacles" (with Phillip M Singer). American Journal of Public Health 107, no. 8 (2017): 1225-1226.

Essential health benefits are minimum insurance benefits encompassing 10 categories of care, which the ACA required all individual and small-group market plans as well as all plans sold on the health care exchanges, to cover. Although some components of the ACA are popular with Republican policymakers, including coverage for preexisting conditions and Medicaid expansion, the EHBs' future is in doubt.