Sara E. Heins

Photo of Sara Heins
Policy Researcher
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D. in health policy and management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; B.A. in biology, Cornell University


Sara E. Heins is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Her research interests include substance use and dependence, injury, occupational health, health information technology, maternal and child health, and emergency medical services. Current RAND projects include a review of changes to Medicaid telehealth policy during the COVID-19 public health emergency and assisting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid collect data on ground ambulance organizations. Recently completed RAND projects include developing and validating algorithms to predict functional impairment among Medicare beneficiaries and reviewing state-level efforts to link Medicaid claims and birth certificate data to advance maternal and child health.

Heins received her B.A. in biology and society from Cornell University and, prior to beginning her doctoral program, worked as a data analyst for the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium, both at Johns Hopkins. She received her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management, with a concentration in health services research.

Selected Publications

Faherty LJ, Heins SE, Kranz AM, Patrick SW, Stein BD, "Association Between Punitive Policies and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Among Medicaid-Insured Infants in Complex Policy Environments," Addiction, 117(1), 2022

Heins SE, Buttorff CB, Armstrong C, Pacula RL, "Claims-Based Measures of Prescription Opioid Utilization: A Practical Guide for Researchers," Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2021

Faherty LJ, Heins SE, Kranz AM, Stein BD, "Postpartum treatment for substance use disorder among mothers of infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome and prenatal substance exposure," Women’s Health Reports, 2(1), 2021

Heins SE, Faherty LJ, Kranz AM, "A Comparison of Approaches to Identify Live Births Using the Medicaid Analytic Extract," Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology, 2021

Heins SE, Castillo RC, "Changes in Opioid Prescribing Following the Implementation of State Policies Limiting Morphine Equivalent Daily Dose in a Commercially Insured Population," Medical Care, 59(9), 2021

Heins SE, Caulkins JP, Kilmer B, Stein BD, "Variation in the Degree of Concentration of Prescription Opioid Utilization Using Different Measures," Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2020

Heins SE, Castillo RC, "The Impact of Morphine Equivalent Daily Dose Threshold Guidelines on Prescribed Dose in a Workers’ Compensation Population," Medical Care, 58(3), 2020

Heins SE, Frey KP, Alexander GC, Castillo RC, "Reducing High Dose Opioid Prescribing: State-Level Morphine Equivalent Daily Dose Policies, 2007-2017," Pain Medicine, 21(2), 2020