HCP Bids Bittersweet Farewell to Retiring Professors Frank and McGuire

The evening of September 21st recognized the retirement of two esteemed Health Care Policy (HCP) faculty members: Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics, Richard Frank, PhD, and Professor of Health Economics, Thomas G. McGuire, PhD. Faculty, colleagues, and family members gathered to honor the careers of these two longstanding members of the HCP community. As expressed by Ridley Watts Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Care Policy, Barbara McNeil, PhD, it was “a bittersweet day for HCP; a party celebrating the long and many contributions of Richard Frank and Tom McGuire to Harvard Medical School, Health Care Policy, and to all of us as individual faculty members and friends.”

The combined retirement party was a fitting tribute to the two professors who worked in tandem throughout their careers. The two originally met at Boston University, where McGuire mentored Frank; Frank joined HCP in 1996, McGuire in 2001. McNeil noted the essential presence of the two, stating: “With our other senior economists they have been a pivotal backbone of our department and helped knit the greater Harvard community interested in health… we will miss them for their friendship, their kindness, their humor, and their intellect “

The evening included tributes by professors, Haiden Huskamp and Tim Layton. Huskamp noted Frank’s leadership and mentorship, especially as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE): (Frank) “is -- as a person and a leader – honest, principled, generous, humble. These qualities enabled him to harness the incredible expertise around him at ASPE and work with all kinds of stakeholders to push the boundaries of what seemed possible, but always with a deep-rooted dedication to being an honest broker for sound policy based on science… His contributions and presence will never be replaceable at HCP.”

In his tribute to McGuire, Layton also recalled McGuire’s mentorship in addition to economic acumen, stating, “Tom has been a beloved mentor who has trained many of the top health economists in the field, giving selflessly of his time for decades to train the rising generation of health economists, helping ensure that they aren't just good econometricians and impact evaluators, but actually good economists. We will all miss Tom very much, as his insights, humor, and friendship are irreplaceable.”

When the two professors took their turns to speak, they shared admiration for each other, for the founders of HCP, and remembered their family and friends as they recounted their memories of years in the department, with Frank emphasizing the good humor that surrounded him throughout his tenure. McGuire reflected on their work together: “I have thought for some time that as a researcher you coevolve with your longstanding coauthors. They are better at you than some things, in others you have an advantage.  And this affects what you can do and what you are interested in. I am very fortunate to have co-evolved with Richard, for decades.  I can’t think of anyone better.”

Richard Frank arrived at HCP in 1994 from Johns Hopkins as the Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics in 1999, serving in this role until his retirement. From 2009 to 2011, he served as the deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at DHHS directing the office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy. From 2013 to 2014, he served as a Special Advisor to the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, and from 2014 to 2016 he served as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services.

His research focuses on the economics of mental health and substance abuse care, long term care financing policy, health care competition, implementation of health reform and disability policy. Additionally, Frank served as an editor for the Journal of Health Economics from 2005 to 2014. He was awarded the Georgescu-Roegen Prize from the Southern Economic Association, the Carl A. Taube Award from the American Public Health Association, and the Emily Mumford Medal from Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry. In 2011, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Mental Health Association of Maryland. Frank also received the John Eisenberg Mentorship Award from the National Research Service Awards. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Medicine) in 1997. He is co-author with Sherry Glied of the book Better but Not Well (Johns Hopkins Press).

McGuire arrived in 2001 as a Professor of Health Economics in the Department of Health Care Policy additionally serving as a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research focuses on the design and impact of health care payment systems, the economics of health care disparities, the economics of mental health policy, and drug regulation and payment. McGuire has contributed to the theory of physician, hospital, and health plan payment. His research on health care disparities includes developing approaches to defining and measuring disparities. For more than 45 years, McGuire has conducted academic and policy research on the economics of mental health. His research on drug regulation focuses on brand-generic competition. His undergraduate degree is from Princeton and his PhD is from Yale, both in economics.