RAND's New President, the U.S. Foreign Service, Transportation Equity: RAND Weekly Recap

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June 10, 2022

This week, we announce our new president and CEO, and discuss new RAND research on the U.S. Foreign Service; mapping online violent extremist rhetoric; America’s new mental health hotline; expanding health insurance to undocumented immigrants in Connecticut; and transportation equity for older adults.

New RAND President and CEO Jason Matheny

Jason Matheny Is RAND's Next President and CEO

We're thrilled to announce that Jason Matheny has been selected as the new president and CEO of RAND. He is an economist, technologist, highly regarded national security expert, and longtime civil servant.

“It's an honor to join RAND, an organization whose people and work I've so long admired,” Matheny said. “Since its founding nearly 75 years ago, RAND has been committed to rigorous, unbiased analysis addressing the world's biggest challenges. A new century has brought on new challenges and new opportunities, and we need RAND’s help now more than ever.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosts a reception in recognition of Eid, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., May 26, 2022, photo by Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department

Secretary of State Antony Blinken during an event at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., May 26, 2022

Photo by Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department

How Do Americans View Diplomacy and Diplomats?

New RAND survey results show that public impressions of U.S. diplomacy and diplomats are generally favorable. In fact, over 65 percent of respondents said that diplomacy contributes to national security. However, some Americans worry that U.S. diplomats, while trustworthy, are politically biased. There also appears to be a limited understanding of what diplomats do, how they are selected, and diplomacy's role within America's national security establishment.

Social media network over a world map, composite image by denisismagilov and Piotr Krzeslak/Adobe Stock

Composite image by denisismagilov and Piotr Krzeslak/Adobe Stock

Mapping Online Violent Extremist Rhetoric

Racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism, or REMVE, is a serious threat. To better understand the problem, RAND researchers used social media data to create a global map of the digital REMVE space. A key finding: the REMVE global network online is largely created and fueled by users in the United States; the movement is less of an issue in other countries. Countering extremism will require a multifaceted approach, particularly because of its intersections with Americans' protected civil rights.

Indian woman on a call at a help line, photo by fizkes/Getty Images

Photo by fizkes/Getty Images

Is America Ready to Launch the New Mental Health Hotline?

America's new emergency mental health telephone service, 988, is scheduled to go live on July 16. Are states and counties prepared? According to a new RAND study, much more work needs to be done. We interviewed 180 behavioral health program directors across the country, and fewer than half expressed confidence that their jurisdiction was prepared in terms of financing, staffing, or infrastructure. Notably, more than half of survey participants said that they were not involved in strategic planning for the hotline.

A stock photo of a health insurance application form focused on the word, "Medicaid," photo by LPETTET/Getty Images

Photo by LPETTET/Getty Images

Expanding Insurance Coverage to Undocumented Immigrants

Policymakers in Connecticut are considering two options to improve health insurance coverage among undocumented immigrants: removing immigration status requirements for Medicaid eligibility, and providing subsidies to undocumented immigrants enrolled in individual market plans. A new RAND analysis estimates that these changes would increase health care coverage and affordability for certain immigrant populations. At the same time, they would not substantially impact health insurance costs for other Connecticut residents.

An older man boarding a bus via the wheelchair access ramp, photo by monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

Transportation Equity for Older Adults

As people age, they often face mobility challenges and may lose their ability to drive. On top of this, transportation technology is advancing in ways that do not always support or prioritize the needs of older adults. A new RAND paper considers how to address this problem. The authors emphasize the need to invest in adapting existing transportation services, as well as creating new transportation solutions. Otherwise, “we risk leaving the older-adult population isolated and alone,” they say.

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