Media Coverage of The Sycamore Institute

Report Reveals Tennessee Insurance Companies Made Sizable Profits Last Year

WPLN | October 17, 2018

“Tennessee insurance companies who sell policies on the individual marketplace had some of the country’s most profitable plans last year, according to a state-by-state comparison from the Kaiser Family Foundation. … Mandy Pellegrin, policy director for the Tennessee-based Sycamore Institute, says insurers may not have been aware how well they were doing when the state’s approval process began. ‘They were submitting prices for 2018 in the middle of 2017, so they didn’t actually know that 2017 was going to pan out that way,’ she says.”

Roundtable at Nissan headquarters addresses Tennessee, Williamson County health impact on economy

Franklin Homepage | October 2, 2018

“On Tuesday morning, three dozen health and community leaders gathered inside Nissan’s North American headquarters to hear results from a health and economic impact study done by the Sycamore Institute. … ‘Health is one of the biggest issues facing our next governor,’ Gov. Bill Haslam said in a video at the presentation’s beginning. Unlike the connection often made between education and economics, Johnson said the connection between health and the economy is rarely noted.”

Tennesseans’ health is below average and it’s costing billions, nonprofit says

The Tennessean | October 2, 2018

“In the five years since the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness was created to help encourage Tennesseans to lead healthier lives, not much has changed. … Tennessee ranks worse than the national average for adult diabetes, poor mental health days, obese adults and low birth weight babies, according to data provided by the Sycamore Institute.”

A pediatrician’s point of view on the health of Tennessee

Op-Ed by Dr. Lisa Piercey in The Jackson Sun | September 28, 2018

“The Sycamore Institute estimates that our state’s higher-than-average rates of chronic disease cost us an additional $5.3 billion in 2015. Addressing chronic disease after it happens is essential, but if we begin to intervene earlier, we can reverse the trend of poor health outcomes and costly treatments.”

Local officials exchange ideas about confronting wellness crisis in Tennessee

The Jackson Sun | September 13, 2018

“Tennessee isn’t a very healthy state; in fact, it’s one of the most unhealthy states in the country, according to research data from The Sycamore Institute. … Chamber President Kyle Spurgeon said these facts have an effect on the business community of a town, county and region as well.”

Doctor says some Memphis kids can’t recognize some fruits and vegetables

The Commerical Appeal | September 11, 2018

“Laura Berlind with the Sycamore Institute, a public policy research center in Nashville, presented charts that showed that often-preventable diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure cost the state billions of dollars each year in medical care, lost productivity and premature death. And Tennessee is worse off than many other states in many aspects of health behavior. For instance, 22 percent of Tennesseans smoke tobacco, compared to 17 percent of people nationwide, Berlind said.”

Tennessee’s prescription pill addiction is getting better, but fentanyl looms large

The Tennessean | September 10, 2018

“Decreasing prescription overdoses but growing fentanyl deaths illustrates the evolution of Tennessee opioid crisis, as doctors and lawmakers crack down on prescriptions and addicts transition to more dangerous illegal drugs. … ‘If there were a magic answer, it would have been adopted by some other state, or Congress or our own state at this point,’ Pellegrin said. ‘Congress is looking at literally dozens of bills right now, which gives you an idea of how complex this problem is.'”

Reeves: How to build a great health care system

Op-Ed by Sen. Shane Reeves in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette | September 5, 2018

“The five counties that make up my district numbers roughly half a million people, which is equivalent to the number of Tennesseans statewide who have been diagnosed with the most common of chronic illnesses: hypertension, heart disease or diabetes. This has an impact on our state’s productivity, and cost us $5.3 billion in 2015, according to a study by the Sycamore Institute.”

Poor health costing Tennessee billions

Kingsport Times News | August 22, 2018

“In November 2017, the Nashville-based Sycamore Institute released a study that found Tennessee’s higher rates of chronic diseases cost to the state’s economy more than $5.3 billion in 2015. In May, Tennessee was named the state with the highest rate of childhood obesity in the nation and continues to rank in the bottom 10 states for health in America.”

State foundation: Tennessee’s health problems breaking the budget

Knoxville News Sentinel | August 21, 2018

“To demonstrate the economic effect of poor health, Laura Berlind, executive director of the nonpartisian Sycamore Institute of Tennessee, singled out three chronic health issues: diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Tennessee’s rates in all three are higher than the national average, Berlind said. To bring Tennessee’s rates just down to the U.S. average — which ‘isn’t even all that great,’ she said — would save the state $5.3 billion in lost productivity, direct medical care and premature death. Nearly half a million Tennesseans — 460,000 — would be affected.”

‘State of the State’s Health’ roundtable focuses on economic impact

WBIR in Knoxville | August 21, 2018

“Tennessee is one of the ten least healthy states in the nation. Knox County is ranked the 17th healthiest county out of 95 counties in Tennessee by the Sycamore Institute, an independent, nonpartisan public policy research center focusing on health policy and the state budget. … Those in attendance included Pilot Flying J Founder Jim Haslam, UT President Joe DiPietro, Richard Johnson, the CEO of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, and Laura Berlind, the executive director of The Sycamore Institute.”

The opioid crisis has hit Williamson County. Why aren’t more people talking about it?

The Tennessean | August 16, 2018

“From 2012 to 2016, there have been 10.3 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people in Williamson County, according to data from the Sycamore Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research center. That’s about one person every 17 days.”

Group to shine light on economic effects of poor health in Tennessee

The Tennessean | August 13, 2018

“Laura Berlind, executive director of the Sycamore Institute, a Nashville-based research center, will present some of the Institute’s findings during each of the six discussions. In November 2017, the nonpartisan organization released a report showing that Tennessee’s rates of chronic illnesses cost the state’s economy more than $5.3 billion in 2015.”

Vanderbilt study improved low income kids’ nutrition, exercise but results indicate more intensive approach needed to stem obesity

BirdDog | August 11, 2018

“In Tennessee an estimated 17 percent of households in 2014 were considered food insecure (meaning they don’t have access to healthy foods) compared to 13.4 percent across the U.S., according to the Sycamore Institute. Households with children are more likely to be food insecure than those without.”

Living urban comfortably is impossible for most, so let’s get radical

Editorial by David Plazas in The Tennessean | July 25, 2018

“On Tuesday, I called James Fraser, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University whom I had interviewed for the 2017 Costs of Growth and Change in Nashville series. … He said the affordable housing shortage has a negative effect on the mental and physical health of people, something confirmed by a 2017 study from the Nashville-based Sycamore Institute.”

Tennessee’s Obamacare market steps back from the brink of collapse

Politico Pro | July 20, 2018 – Subscription Required

“The situation in Tennessee is a stark reversal from just a year ago, when insurers were fleeing the state and premiums were skyrocketing. ‘Tennessee’s insurers got pricing really wrong early on and they seem to have worked that out,’ said Mandy Pellegrin, policy director for the Sycamore Institute, a non-partisan think tank in the state. Tennessee, which didn’t expand Medicaid or establish its own exchange, initially had some of the lowest premiums in the country — though its customers turned out to be among the sickest. … ‘Those lower premiums just really didn’t make sense,’ Pellegrin said.”

Tennessee insurers to cut Affordable Care Act premiums

WTVC in Chattanooga | July 12, 2018

“Tennessee’s biggest health insurers are cutting the premiums for individual plans under the Affordable Care Act’s health care exchange market for the first time. In filings with state regulators Wednesday, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee says it plans to reduce its average rate by 10.9 percent next year, while Cigna plans to reduce its rates by an average 4.8 percent. Read more: The top 3 takeaways from The Sycamore Institute’s analysis of the filings.”

Competition shakes up Tennessee ACA exchange

BirdDog | June 24, 2018

“Mandy Pellegrin, policy director of the Sycamore Institute, wondered if the rush to compete for business could somewhat boost overall enrollment numbers if there’s a marketing blitz that puts open enrollment, which starts on Nov. 1, on more people’s radar. … There’s a chance that prices stabilize since insurers spent years underpricing policies before finding a balance between claims and premiums, said Pellegrin.”

Medicare will be broke by 2026, officials say


“As alarming as a Medicare shortfall would be today, the impact is likely only to increase between now and 2026, said Brian Straessle, communication director for The Sycamore Institute, a health policy research group based in Nashville. Straessle pointed to a report by the state Commission on Aging and Disability that said the Tennesseans eligible for Medicare is expected to grow by a third by 2030. ‘Tennesseans on Medicare won’t see any immediate effects, but that could change if policy makers don’t find the way to make the math work,’ Straessle said.”

Why Health Insurance Rates In Tennessee May Finally Be Leveling Out

Nashville Public Radio (WPLN)| May 22, 2018

“President Trump is now allowing trade groups to provide health plans that don’t meet Obamacare standards. ‘What’s different about Tennessee is we’ve had these kind of plans here, available through Farm Bureau,’ says Laura Berlind, executive director of the Sycamore Institute, a public policy think tank. ‘So we may see the effect of the increased availability of those plans in Tennessee maybe less.'”

Tennessee leaps 5 spots, stays in Commonwealth Fund’s last quartile as obesity, mental health and vaccines plague the state

BirdDog| May 17, 2018

“The percentage of people with high out-of-pocket costs may begin to rise as data factors in the growing number of high deductible plans, Radley said. Tennesseans have seen deductibles in employer-sponsored plans surge from from 2002 to 2016, according to the Sycamore Institute.”

An opioid alternative: Vanderbilt doctor’s relief retreats give pain patients their lives back

The Tennessean| April 21, 2018

“Insurance often influences whether and to what extent individuals can afford treatment services, according to The Sycamore Institute, a public policy research center in Tennessee. Even insured individuals can have trouble accessing needed treatment.”

Tennessee Health Insurance Subsidies Grow 300 Percent Since Start Of Obamacare

Nashville Public Radio (WPLN)| April 18, 2018

“A nonpartisan analysis finds that the federal government is shouldering a much larger share of individual health insurance costs in Tennessee. Subsidies for those who buy their own insurance on the federal marketplace have increased by 309 percent since 2014, according to the Sycamore Institute. Premiums, by comparison, have risen 185 percent over the same period.”

Haslam: Tennessee’s health ‘a slow turning battleship’

BirdDog | March 28, 2018

“The state’s outsize share of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease carries an extra $5.3 billion a year in health care costs, according to the Sycamore Institute.”

The TennCare work requirement bill isn’t just about work

BirdDog | March 21, 2018

“Laura Berlind, executive director of Sycamore Institute, said a slower economy could make it more expensive to provide support services to help people fulfill the work requirement as demand for them increased.”

Casada: Nashville should follow Tennessee’s lead on finances

Op-Ed by TN House Majority Leader Glen Casada in The Tennessean | March 9, 2018

“According to the November 2017 Sycamore Institute’s analysis of the Tennessee budget, 45 percent of our state’s total spending already goes to health and social services.”

Implementing States’ Medicaid Wishes Won’t Be Cheap

Governing | February 19, 2018

“When Tennessee implemented TANF work requirements, the state spent more than $70 million, according to the Sycamore Institute, a nonpartisan policy institute.”

Here’s How Tennessee’s Governor Wants to Spend Your Tax $

WUTC in Chattanooga | February 14, 2018

“The Sycamore Institute–an independent, statewide, nonpartisan public policy research center for Tennessee–has released a budget summary to help you better understand what Haslam is proposing.”

Health an economic development issue, Oklahoma City mayor tells Tennessee leaders

The Daily Times in Maryville | February 2, 2018

“Tennessee’s rates of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension exceed the national average. That difference alone costs $5.3 billion in medical care, lost productivity and premature death, according to a study by the Sycamore Institute.”

Health issues back in spotlight for Tennessee lawmakers

Chattanooga Times Free Press | January 13, 2018

“Health and social services make up the largest portion — 45 percent — of the state’s budget, followed by education at 29 percent, yet Tennessee consistently ranks in the bottom nationally on key health indicators, according to a health and budget policy report released this week by the nonprofit Sycamore Institute.”

Affordable housing experts: Nashville must talk less, do more

Editorial in The Tennessean | December 17, 2017

“Housing affordability is a great example of how social, economic and physical environments influence our health and well-being. Research shows clear connections between unaffordable housing and poorer health status, food insecurity and lower spending on medical care. — Laura Berlind”

High rate of chronic disease costs Tennessee $5.3 billion annually

The Tennessean | November 26, 2017

“‘We’ve come to accept that investing in education will lead to better economic output and better prosperity for the state,’ said Laura Berlind, Sycamore’s executive director. ‘We don’t yet talk about how better health and well-being will lead to economic prosperity.'”

Tennessee’s health issues hurt its economy, report says

Chattanooga Times Free Press | November 17, 2017

“‘I’m hoping that people can start to see the dots and connect them — health outcomes matter for the economic prosperity of our state,’ said Laura Berlind, executive director of the Sycamore Institute.”

State lawmakers tackle $5B chronic illness cost for Tennesseans

ABC News (WKRN in Nashville, WATE in Knoxville & WHJL in Tri-Cities) | November 15, 2017

“A Sycamore Institute study for the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness found three chronic diseases–type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease–affect 460,000 thousand Tennesseans with a cost for the year 2015 of $5.3 billion in direct medical care, lost productivity, and premature death.”

Tennessee Planned For President Trump To Cut Obamacare Payments To Insurers

Nashville Public Radio (WPLN) | October 13, 2017

“‘Tennessee required the insurance companies, when they were submitting their premium rate filings — their proposed increases — they required insurance companies to assume this is exactly what was going to happen,’ says Brian Straessle of the non-partisan Sycamore Institute.”

What is the ACA subsidy Trump is ending? Here’s what it will mean for you

The Tennessean | October 13, 2017

“Fifty-nine percent of Tennesseans qualify for a CSR from insurers but the future of the payments could impact premiums for 70 percent of people who buy plans, according to the Sycamore Institute”

Op-Ed: The opioid crisis has outgrown Tennessee’s treatment policies

Op-Ed by Laura Berlind in The Tennessean | October 8, 2017

“The opioid epidemic has had a staggering impact in Tennessee: countless loved ones gone, higher health care costs, more drug-related crime, reduced work productivity, more children in state custody and a 10-fold increase in babies born with symptoms of opioid withdrawal.”

State Politicians in No Hurry to Fix Health Insurance

The Memphis Daily News & The Nashville Ledger | October 5, 2017

“Monthly premiums for a 55-year-old non-smoker in the Greater Knoxville and Greater Memphis areas would jump to more than $1,430 from $725, according to the Sycamore Institute’s analysis of federal filings.”

Tate tackling opioid crisis

Nashville Post | Sept. 21, 2017

“According to an August 2017 report published by the Sycamore Institute, in 2012 Tennessee had an average of 1.4 opioid prescriptions for every Tennessean — the second highest rate in the U.S. Prescription opioids have surpassed alcohol as the primary substance of abuse for treatment funded by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.”

Drug overdose deaths in Tennessee jump to record high in 2016

Chattanooga Times Free Press | Sept. 20, 2017

“The Sycamore Institute, a nonprofit research organization, also reported recently that Tennessee has enacted a number of policies to limit the supply of prescription opioids by publishing prescription guidelines and regulating pain management clinics.”

Latest ACA repeal bill could hit those with pre-existing conditions

The Tennessean | Sept. 18, 2017

“It’s estimated that between 1.3 million and 2.8 million Tennesseans have a pre-existing condition, according to the Sycamore Institute, which analyzed the impact of an earlier repeal-and-replace bill on rural Tennessee and TennCare.”

Opioid addiction: Pregnant women recover in Humboldt

The Jackson Sun | September 5, 2017

“According to research from the Sycamore Institute, the number of babies born with withdrawal symptoms due to their mothers’ use of opioids during pregnancy has rapidly increased in recent years.”

Data-Driven Policy Making In An Age Of Anecdotes

Health Affairs | August 31, 2017

“As an independent public policy research center, the Sycamore Institute has the ability and agility to weigh in on rapidly evolving topics like how health reform efforts in Congress could affect our state.”

Tennessee’s new Sycamore Institute fills research void, policymaker inboxes

The Tennessean | August 18, 2017

“The Sycamore Institute occupies a space unto itself: Tennessee data focused on health, well-being and state’s budget.”

Stronger Penalties Alone Won’t Solve State’s Opioid Crisis

The Memphis Daily News & The Nashville Ledger | August 17, 2017

“The Sycamore Institute gives the state good marks for significant progress in cutting opioid prescribing and dispensing, in addition to making a few ‘targeted investments’ in substance abuse treatment.”

National opioid epidemic emergency declaration will save lives

The Tennessean | August 13, 2017

“Among Sycamore’s takeaways are the need to create a broad behavioral health-focused approach that works on prevention and treatment. A major barrier for people, though, is the cost of treatment.”

Bradley County works to heal, overcome opioid abuse

Chattanooga Times Free Press | August 12, 2017

“Although prescribing rates have decreased, opioid related hospitalizations and deaths in Tennessee continue to rise, according to an August report from the Sycamore Institute, an independent, nonpartisan public policy research center in Nashville.”

Opioid-related deaths, cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome increasing in Tennessee

WATE in Knoxville & WJHL in Tri-Cities | August 4, 2017

“A new study by the Sycamore Foundation looked at indicators of progress in the fight against the the opioid epidemic. While Tennessee has made significant progress in reducing opioid prescriptions and dispensing in recent years, the study found that has not translated in a reduction of opioid related hospitalizations, deaths or neonatal abstinence syndrome.”

Employers take the reins amid health insurance chaos

The Tennessean | July 30, 2017

“In fact, the average deductible for a family in an employer-sponsored plan rose 252 percent in 14 years — from $1,039 in 2002 to $3,662 in 2016, according to an analysis from the Sycamore Institute.”

For a Healthcare Fix, Tennessee Could Look North (Way, Way North)

WUTC in Chattanooga | July 26, 2017

“The Sycamore Institute suggests reinsurance could be an option for Tennessee. The Institute is a Nashville-based, nonpartisan public policy research center. … Brian Straessle, Communications Director for the Institute, joins us to explain how reinsurance works.”

Revised health care bill draws GOP praise

Nashville Post | July 14, 2017

“An analysis of the plan by the Sycamore Institute said the Senate bill’s approach ‘would likely result in lower premium options in the individual market [in Tennessee], creating more opportunities for healthier individuals to purchase plans that better meet their needs.'”

Health care fatigue builds as Congress mulls another ACA repeal bill

The Tennessean | July 14, 2017

“‘Congress is looking to give states more influence over health insurance in the individual market. If they succeed, the question for Tennessee policymakers becomes how to balance the public’s competing desires for lower premiums and guaranteed, affordable coverage of pre-existing conditions,’ said Laura Berlind, executive director of the Sycamore Institute, a Tennessee-focused nonpartisan think tank.”

Op-Ed: Understanding policy trade-offs in the health care debate

Op-Ed by Laura Berlind in The Tennessean | July 8, 2017

“Two of the Affordable Care Act’s primary trade-offs include helping the sick and elderly afford private insurance by mandating participation and increasing costs for the young and healthy and, secondly, covering more people through Medicaid by increasing federal taxes and spending.”

Health care changes could hit rural Tennesseans hardest

The Tennessean | July 6, 2017

“Since there are higher rates of chronic disease and the population tends to be older, people in rural areas could see higher out-of-pocket costs than other parts of the state if proposals change what insurers can charge based on age or pre-existing diseases, according to the Sycamore Institute, a Tennessee-focused nonpartisan think tank.”

Tennessee lawmakers still reviewing CBO report on Senate health care bill

Chattanooga Times Free Press | June 27, 2017

“Over a 10-year period, TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, which now covers an estimated 1.5 million low-income mothers and their children as well the disabled and the elderly poor, could lose as much as $3.2 billion, according to the Sycamore Institute analysis.”

Panelists believe Senate’s health care bill will harm Tennesseans

WKRN in Nashville | June 26, 2017

“’No policy is perfect,’ said Executive Director Linda Berlind. ‘Regardless of what you think about the Affordable Care Act or the American Health Care Act or the new Senate proposal, there are going to be trade-offs for everyone.’”

Senate health care bill ratchets up fear over losing TennCare services for people with disabilities

The Tennessean | June 24, 2017

“The Sycamore Institute found that since 2006, TennCare spending per enrollee grew faster than than general inflation at a rate between medical inflation and medical inflation plus 1 percent.”

How the Senate health care bill impacts Tennessee and other states

The Tennessean & The Knoxville News Sentinel | June 22, 2017

“Tennessee will be facing trade-offs under either the Senate or House bill when allocating funds and deciding benefits for people covered by TennCare, said Laura Berlind, executive director of the Sycamore Institute, a Tennessee-focused nonpartisan think tank.”

Americans speak out: They want quality health care

Editorial in The Tennessean | June 4, 2017

“The Nashville-based Sycamore Institute, a nonpartisan public policy center, reported that 36 percent of Tennesseans would be affected in some way by AHCA — 6 percent who buy insurance on individual exchanges, 19 percent on TennCare and 11 percent who are uninsured.”

5 ways President Trump’s proposed budget could impact Tennessee

The Tennessean | May 23, 2017

“TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program, is among the lowest cost programs in the country so any cuts that get passed either through the budget or the American Health Care Act — the House GOP health care bill — might not be felt immediately, said Laura Berlind, executive director of The Sycamore Institute, a public policy think tank in Nashville.”

Can ‘old Nashville’ and ‘new Nashville’ co-exist?

The Tennessean | April 30, 2017

“Panelists at the forum — Adriane Harris, who is Mayor Megan Barry’s senior affordable housing adviser; Jeremy Heidt, director of industry and government affairs at THDA; and Laura Berlind, founding executive director of the Sycamore Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research organization — all called for changing the conversation on affordable housing.”

House Speaker Beth Harwell to GOP Caucus on gas tax vote: ‘Try to keep personalities out of it’

Chattanooga Times Free Press | April 18, 2017

“‘The data shows that gas tax collections in the last two decades have been relatively stable from one year to the next,’ the Sycamore Institute says in its comparison of both sources of funding. ‘Automobile sales during the same period have experienced more overall growth with higher volatility. Lawmakers should weigh the trade-offs of both revenue sources when considering how they will vote later this week.'”

Study finds vehicle sales tax more volatile than fuel tax

Humphrey on the Hill | April 18, 2017

“The Sycamore Institute, founded in 2015 by former state Sen. Jim Bryson of Franklin and billing itself as a “nonpartisan policy research center for Tennessee,” has issued a 20-year comparison of state fuel tax revenue and sales tax revenue from vehicle sales taxes.”

Knox County scores higher than state as a whole on health and well-being index

WVLT in Knoxville | March 24, 2017

“The Tennessee Health and Well-Being Index, a new tool created by the Sycamore Institute, measures the drivers of health and tracks them over time. In a new release of the index, Knox County scored higher than the state as a whole in health and well-being.”

Waters: Obamacare, Trumpcare and people who need care

Columnist David Waters in The Commercial Appeal | March 21, 2017

“The AHCA’s proposed cuts in Medicaid could cost TennCare from $1 billion to $17 billion over the next 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Sycamore Institute.”

Haslam upbeat, but concerned, about federal Medicaid plan

The Tennessee Journal | March 17, 2017 (Vol. 43, No. 11) – Subscription Required

“A potential problem for Tennessee is that the baseline is fiscal 2016, which the Sycamore Institute, in a newly published analysis, describes in the context of a 10-year comparison as ‘a relatively low-cost year’ per enrollee when adjusted for inflation.”

TennCare chief: Obamacare replacement holds ‘serious budget implications’

The Tennessean | March 14, 2017

“If TennCare managed to sustain its targeted 3.3 percent growth rate that’s set as a goal in recent years, then for four years under the AHCA the program could net an extra $115 million a year until 2021. But if its growth exceeded that and came closer to the national average projected by the CBO, 4.4 percent, then the agency could be short $2.6 billion over the next decade, according to an analysis by the Sycamore Institute, a Tennessee-focused nonpartisan think tank.”

Op-Ed: Let data drive Tennessee transportation debate

Op-Ed by Laura Berlind & Jim Bryson in The Tennessean | March 3, 2017

“Our organization does not advocate for any policies or agenda. Rather, our mission is to provide lawmakers, journalists and the public with information and analysis that is timely, relevant, accessible and easy to understand. Our leadership and staff come from across the political spectrum, but we are united by a shared belief that data and evidence create the best foundation for effective public policy.”