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COVID-19 is a pandemic that has exposed a range of shortcomings that exist in the U.S. healthcare sector, from a lack of preparedness, to limited supplies, to inequities in impact and access. At the same time, as we have confronted and adjusted to the situation, certain opportunities to improve the performance of our healthcare system have been revealed.
The second session in the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Economic Forum’s series Restoring Our Economy Post-Pandemic explored the U.S. healthcare system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what we have learned from this crisis to help us improve delivery in the future. Where did we lack preparedness? What are the structural and systemic failures that create disparities and health inequities among different groups of Americans? Can learnings from our response help better prepare our nation for the next pandemic, and also have lasting benefits?
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The inaugural series of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Economic Forum will explore the significant impact and policy implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. As lawmakers enact major programs to address the devastating damage to our health, economy and society, many critical questions remain about the path forward. This Forum series will host conversations that explore lessons learned thus far, ideas for when and how we can safely reopen the economy, and how effective fiscal policy can both aid recovery and prepare us better for the next unforeseen crisis.
Michelle A. Williams, SM ’88, ScD ’91, is Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development, a joint faculty appointment at the Harvard Chan School and Harvard Kennedy School. She is an internationally renowned epidemiologist and public health scientist, an award-winning educator, and a widely recognized academic leader. Prior to becoming Dean, she was Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School and Program Leader of the Population Health and Health Disparities Research Programs at Harvard’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Center. Dean Williams previously had a distinguished career at the University of Washington School of Public Health. Her scientific work places special emphasis in the areas of reproductive, perinatal, pediatric, and molecular epidemiology. Dean Williams has published over 450 scientific articles. She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2016. The Dean has a master’s in civil engineering from Tufts University and master’s and doctoral degrees in epidemiology from the Harvard Chan School.
Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. He previously served as president of the U.S. Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine), as provost of Harvard University, and as dean of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. He devoted most of his academic career to the fields of health policy and medical decision-making. His past research has focused on global health, assessment of medical technology, evaluation and use of vaccines, and dissemination of medical innovations.
Dr. Fineberg is co-author of the books Clinical Decision Analysis, Innovators in Physician Education, and The Epidemic That Never Was, an analysis of the controversial U.S. immunization program against swine flu in 1976. He chaired the National Academies committee that produced the 2019 report on Reproducibility and Replicability in Science. In 2011, he chaired the Committee to Review the International Health Regulations and the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Pandemic for the World Health Organization, and he co-chairs the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science and Policy Strategy Group. Dr. Fineberg previously served on the boards of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. He serves as a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the China Medical Board.
Dr. Fineberg currently chairs the board of the Science Philanthropy Alliance and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats.
Michael A. Peterson is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a non-partisan organization dedicated to addressing America’s fiscal challenges and building a stronger economic future. The Foundation engages in grant-making, partnerships and research to educate citizens and foster solutions to put America on a sustainable fiscal path. Michael sets the Foundation’s policy direction and strategy, shaping its major programs and initiatives.
Michael combines his dedication to public service with extensive private sector experience as an entrepreneur, operator and investor. In 2007, he co-founded Evolve IP, an award-winning telecommunications company named as one of America’s 50 best places to work (Inc. Magazine), best entrepreneurial companies (Entrepreneur Magazine) and fastest growing technology companies (Deloitte Fast 500). Michael also co-founded GPX Enterprises, L.P., which makes direct investments in operating businesses and real estate. Previously, he held a number of corporate finance positions, leading and executing transactions totaling several billion dollars. Michael also currently serves as the CEO of Peterson Management, LLC, which manages the Peterson family investments.
Michael is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Partnership for New York City. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Economic Club of New York, and Business Executives for National Security. He has received the Corporate Community Achievement Award from the Northside Center for Child Development and the Visionary Award from the Committee for Economic Education. Additionally, he has established his own foundation, which focuses on a variety of philanthropic areas.
Michael graduated Magna Cum Laude and with Honors from Brown University, where he was awarded the Taubman Prize for his thesis. He received his Master's degree from the London School of Economics. Michael lives in New York with his wife, Tara Peters, and their two children.