obtained via the web differ from those obtained using a telephone interviewer. This is an area in which federal funding to improve survey research methods would be valuable.
Limited ability to share the data. Limits on the available survey funds have also prevented the creation, dissemination, and support of public-use data files based on the two surveys. This, in turn, limits the use of the survey data for additional research projects. This is another area in which federal funding would be valuable to help support the creation, maintenance, and dissemination of public-use data files.
Comparisons to other states. Although both surveys provide valuable data on Massachusetts, the lack of comparable national data makes it difficult to compare Massachusetts with the rest of the country on a number of important outcomes. Such information would be valuable to place the findings for Massachusetts in the context of other states, as well as to support stronger evaluation designs than are possible with data for a single state.
Although there is likely to be a continuing role for state-sponsored surveys to address issues of particular policy relevance in each state, a number of strategies would increase the value of existing national surveys for state-specific studies. These include
providing much larger state and local samples, overall and for key population groups (including children);
making state identifiers available outside research data center settings;
providing more geocoding of local areas;
adding state-specific program names to health insurance coverage questions;
expanding survey content to include questions on access, use, and costs of care, along with other issues of relevance to national health care reform; and
making data files available more quickly and in user-friendly formats to facilitate their use by state analysts.
This paper reflects the views of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Urban Institute, its sponsors, or its trustees.