Magazine article Policy & Practice

Reflections of APHSA Summer Interns

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Reflections of APHSA Summer Interns

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: The past summer APHSA benefited from the services of four college interns, who shared their enthusiasm, insight and diligence with staff. Here are their reflections of their experience with APHSA.

At the beginning of my internship at APHSA, I was privileged to be able to attend the NASMD "boot-camp" for new Medicaid directors and was also able to attend the NASMD conference. Not only did I find these events invaluable to my general education about the Medicaid program, I was also inspired by the passion, creativity and dedication of each of the state Medicaid directors to the improvement and transformation of the program. On a daily basis at the APHSA office, I was able to learn a great deal from compiling and consolidating the responses of state Medicaid program administrators to NASMD surveys about current and developing Medicaid policies and health care reform.

Perhaps the most exciting and thought-provoking aspect of my internship was my opportunity to attend the hearings and legislative markups of the Senate HELP Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. There were two aspects of the health care reform debate that particularly interested, and sometimes concerned, me. The first was the extremely rapid pace with which the legislation is barreling through the congressional halls. I found it somewhat troubling to listen to many of the congressmen stating that they had not had time to even completely read the bill they were discussing and voting on. I fully agree that the issue of health care reform is one that is of the utmost urgency, but it seems that an issue of such importance should receive the time for contemplation it deserves, rather than being subjected to politically fueled deadlines, however noble. One aspect of health care reform that I am pleased to hear discussed is that of physician reimbursement rates and reforms concerning Medicaid billing. As a pre-medical student, I have made it a priority to speak with many doctors in my community about their experiences in medicine and their advice to me about choosing a specialty. It is from this perspective that I can unfortunately say that I have already been told literally dozens of times to avoid primary care and participation in Medicaid in my future career because of difficulties with the system and problems with underpayments. Because of this unfortunate bias against primary care and Medicaid participation that is still unfortunately alive and well and being passed on to the future generation of physicians, I am grateful that legislation is being considered to rectify this situation, which is at the heart of the issue for many Americans' in access to health care.

Mary Hough is pursuing an undergraduate degree in biomedical science at Texas A&M University.

Working at APHSA has given me a firm background in the policies of TANF and SNAP, Medicaid, and service integration initiatives. More important, I have seen how state and national leaders involved in the policy-making process shape the future of these programs and understand the impact of these policies on the communities I hope to someday serve.

Previously I felt that, as a pre-med student, my perspective would have no place in politics. However, perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned in D.C. is that varying perspectives are vital. A physician cannot work in a lower income community without understanding the issues and needs of that community. Neither can a practitioner develop a clinic without understanding what it takes to efficiently operate one. In politics, perhaps more so than any other field, there is a need for diverse perspectives. Veteran policymakers desiring to create successful and effective policies must seek out the wisdom of those working in the field while also challenging themselves to experience how policy is put into practice. Simultaneously, potential policymakers with unique professional experiences should step up on behalf of those they serve, shouldering the responsibility of speaking for those without a voice. …

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