Implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Oregon
Written by Marco De Leon
Before my time at the Woodrow Wilson School, I spent my days working on Capitol Hill. While I never directly handled the issue of health care for any Member of Congress, my time in government was nonetheless dominated by the issue. From the agenda-setting politics of the presidential primaries to the protracted and contentious congressional negotiations, any other legislative priorities had to be seen with an eye on the politics of the health care debate.
Given the reform effort’s continued stature in public discourse, I believed the Wilson School’s policy workshop entitled Implementation of the Affordable Care Act was bound to be relevant, dynamic, and interesting. In honesty, the workshop far surpassed even these high expectations.
The workshop’s instructors brought an exceptional level of experience and insight to the classroom from studying and working on the issue from the federal, state, and local levels. Heather Howard is a former NJ Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, a local elected official, and the Director of the State Health Reform Assistant Network; Chad Shearer is a former congressional staffer, and the Deputy Director for the State Health Reform Assistance Network.
Similarly, my workshop classmates also provided enriching perspectives from their professional backgrounds. Our small team included experience from agencies and organizations operating at international, federal, state, and local levels. We also brought with us a substantial range of exposure to the health reform issue. Some of us had spent many years working on healthcare systems, while others had been exposed only indirectly.
After reviewing the several components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act through the fall of 2012, we traveled to Oregon for our firsthand look at implementation. The network of our instructors enabled us to line-up of interviews with the top health care practitioners in Oregon. We spent a week interviewing state agencies and officials, federal representatives, consumer advocates, health care providers, health plans, and researchers. More importantly, these meetings in our adventure out west brought a significant breadth and depth to our understanding of Oregon’s reform plans and opportunities as we crafted our final report. By the end of the workshop, our class had developed a sophisticated report delineating specific policy recommendations for the State of Oregon to build on its already impressive efforts to reform.
This multidimensional exploration of the health care reform has turned me from a passive observer of the political debate to an engaged participate of the policy discussion. Further, the support of the Wilson School, the careful crafting of the coursework, and the camaraderie with my classmates made for a truly unparalleled and unforgettable experience.