UMass Boston College of Nursing and Health Sciences PhD students Maryum Kazmi, Rebecca Pender, Dany Hilaire, Alan Wright, and Hermine Poghosyan, and McCormack Graduate School PhD student Katia Powell, attended day one of The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum at the State House on January 11, 2011. The forum is sponsored by the Massachusetts Health Policy forum, a coalition of Brandeis University Heller School, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and other health care organizations in the state. This was the second year students from UMass Boston’s PhD Nursing Program have been invited to attend, along with other Health Policy students from graduate schools in Massachusetts. Attendance was by invitation only and limited to a small number of students per school.
The purpose of the forum is to give advanced graduate students of policy, health, and medicine direct insight into how state government health policy is created and implemented. They are exposed to legislators and committee staff; meet with state officials; as well as hear from a panel including a lobbyist, advocate and a media representative. “The Conference pulled together many of my classes in Health Economics, Health Care Financing, and Health Policy. I felt excited about my knowledge base and proud to be among the next generation of health policy leaders,” student Rebecca Penders says.
The unifying theme of this year’s forum was cost containment for sustainable health care reform. Some of the featured panels and discussions included Health Policy in the Legislature, the Role of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, and Cost Containment and Quality and the Group Insurance Commission. Keynote Speaker John McDonough, Professor of Public Health Practice at the Harvard School of Public Health, presented "Understanding the Affordable Care Act," a speech that student Dany Hilaire describes as being the most “influential” of the day. “A take home message for me was that although government is now requiring insurance coverage for all, it is important for government officials to understand that some public services, such as free clinics in underserved communities, are still necessary because many that are below the poverty level cannot afford co-pays. It is critical to understand that insurance coverage for all is a necessary step toward better healthcare in the country.”
All of the CNHS students in attendance were very enthusiastic about the experience and look forward to day two of the forum, scheduled for Friday, March 25th, 2011 at the Department of Health Care Finance and Policy's Daley Room.