Now more than ever, the U.S. health care system and health outcomes are under a policy microscope. From COVID-19 to health disparities to health data infrastructure to climate change and more, policymakers are responding every day to dynamic and complex health care issues, and they need the best evidence to inform them if we are to meaningfully improve outcomes and achieve health equity.

Despite the country’s high expenditures ($12,530 per person in 2020), the U.S. health system remains fraught with low value care, workforce burnout, deep racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in outcomes, and vulnerability to shocks, as the pandemic laid bare. Cross-country comparisons show the U.S. spends more on health care than comparable countries yet has the worst health outcomes, including high maternal and infant mortality rates and subpar health care system performance. All sectors of U.S. health care spending are expected to increase year-over-year and total expenditures are projected to reach $6.2 trillion by 2028.
In addition, the public perception of the meaning and value of health have changed dramatically in the last few years. The pandemic, of course, has brought health and wellbeing to the forefront of the public’s mind, but misinformation has resulted in confusion among state and local government leaders about how best to ensure health and wellbeing across populations. As the health sector moves towards patient-centered care, where patients have a more active role in their own health care decisions, all parties including patients, physicians, health care systems and policymakers must find common ground. 

To do this, policymakers need to hear evidence-based research that can be put into action. Connecting the work in the field of health services research (HSR) to regulatory and legislative policymakers should begin with researchers who understand the policy process. A practical understanding of the various levels of government can both help inform health services researchers in evaluating the problems in our system as well as give those researchers the tools and expertise to effectively communicate with end users of their work.

Policy literacy is key to engaging meaningfully with stakeholders. That’s the value of Health Policy Orientation  – here you will hear from a wide range of practitioners who can pull the curtain back from the complexities of the federal government. You will gain insight to these questions, and more:

  • What are the most important health policy topics today and in the near future?
  • How can evidence-based research impact policy at the local, state, and federal levels?
  • What is a policy window and when is the best time of year to go to Congress? 
  • What are the roles of the respective regulatory and administrative agencies?
  • How and with whom might you partner to increase the impact of your work?

Panels will include explanations of the state of health care policy, how Congress, the Courts, and the Executive Branches work and interact including budgeting processes, distribution of public and private health insurance, how private and non-profit organizations play a role in policy development, efficient communication with policymakers, and more.

Attend the Washington, D.C.-based conference from October 24-26 and hear from policymakers about how they learn about cutting-edge developments, and what you need to do to break through to them.

Effective communication and policy literacy are key to meaningful engagement with stakeholders, but it is not an arcane or impossible skill to pick up. If you’ve told yourself this is the year that you’ll get more involved health policy, this is a great way to start.

Learn more about the Health Policy Orientation HERE , and we can’t wait to see you there!

Committee Member, Member

Kaleigh Ligus, M.A.

Ph.D. Candidate - University of Connecticut

Kaleigh is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Sciences department at the University of Con... Read Bio

Josh Caplan Headshot

Josh Caplan, M.A., M.P.P.

Director for Government Affairs - AcademyHealth

Josh Caplan is the Director for Government Affairs at AcademyHealth, overseeing advocacy and public policy str... Read Bio

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