Each year, graduate students in the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy participate in a policy research seminar (PRS) where they work in small teams to complete client-driven policy analysis projects. The PRS allows students to hone their skills in implementing the analytic tools of policy research and, importantly, in communicating their results to policymakers. Drs Eric Jensen and David Finifter of the Thomas Jefferson Program teach the PRS class and serve as supervisors for all the projects. Faculty members in economics, government, and policy aslo serve as individual project advisors.
In fall 2011, three students, Jeremie Amoroso, Tony Guth, and Lewis Woodard, completed a project related to the Basic Health Program (BHP), an important but less well known component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Their report examined how optional state run BHPs impact family health insurance coverage and use. It is hypothesized that BHPs could encourage more families to have all members insured resulting in increased access and use of healthcare services. The students conducted an in-depth analysis of data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to test this hypothesis. The project was prepared for their client Amerigroup Corporation, a company devoted to improving access to healthcare while reducing costs to taxpayers.
The group created a poster of their results which was presented to the Thomas Jefferson Program Board of Advisors in fall 2011 and wrote a 56 page report of their findings. Jeremie, Tony, and Lewis presented their results to senior-level staff at Amerigroup Corporation headquarters in Virginia Beach, VA on December 16, 2011.
Jeremie, Tony, and Lewis all agree that the project helped prepare them for future job opportunities and provided them with valuable experience in health care data analysis.