William & Mary graduates include many alums who work in the field of health policy. The Schroeder Center for Health Policy is pleased to highlight some of these alums through a series of interviews focusing on their career paths, current job responsibilities, and their experiences at William & Mary that helped prepare them for their health-related work.
Below is an article about Jonathan Yost, who received a M.P.P. from William & Mary in 2011.
After graduating from William & Mary with a Master of Public Policy in 2011, Jonathan Yost began work as a senior policy analyst for the policy division of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), Virginia’s state Medicaid agency. Over his six-year tenure at DMAS, Yost worked on a variety of policy issues affecting the agency and Virginia.
Yost found two of his DMAS projects particularly interesting. In the first project, Yost had the opportunity to work on cutting-edge policy work by creating presentations and speeches for the state Medicaid director related to Virginia’s opioid epidemic. In the second project, Yost enhanced DMAS’s data-driven policymaking capabilities by compiling data from various sources into a single resource. This task took several years, but allowed Yost to draw heavily on the quantitative skills he acquired while at William & Mary. Yost found this opportunity particularly rewarding because, as he sees it, advocacy often beats analysis in decision making, but “policy is only as good as the numbers behind it.”
Moving into the private sector in 2017, Yost joined the Community Care Network of Virginia, Inc., where he currently serves as Director of Managed Care Contracting. In this position, he oversees contracting strategies and monitors legislation impacting Medicaid managed care plans, Virginia’s Commonwealth Coordinated Care (CCC) Plus program, and Medicare Advantage. Often these responsibilities lead Yost to work with Federally Qualified Health Centers, which provide care to underserved populations regardless of individuals’ ability to pay. To help ensure that these centers are financially viable and able to provide high-quality, low-cost care, Yost develops ongoing relationships with as many payers as possible.
In terms of current health policy issues, Yost finds the issue of access to care and network adequacy particularly fascinating. He believes that while the Affordable Care Act (ACA) produced some major accomplishments in terms of providing pockets of the population with access to insurance, the ACA ultimately fell short in increasing access to care. He thinks that while preventive care is vital, it is only successful when people can access their health care providers. He commented that the ACA only offers part of the solution to this issue.
Another health policy issue that Yost finds particularly interesting is the need for greater health literacy. He noted that while some groups are very good at understanding diagnoses and complying with treatments, other groups struggle significantly with these issues.
While a student at William & Mary, Yost particularly enjoyed Professor Lou Rossiter’s Health Policy course and his mentorship. In addition, he found courses in budget-making and cost-benefit analysis very informative, and he uses skills he learned in his state and local policy courses frequently, as most of his work focuses on the state level. Further, Yost also interned at the Williamsburg Health Foundation, where he benefited from the valuable mentorship of Paulette Parker.
Yost also enjoyed the opportunity to work with the William & Mary Policy Review, a peer-reviewed policy journal led and run by M.P.P. students. Working on the first-edition of the Review as a Managing Editor, he drew on many of his peers to get the publication operational – an accomplishment of which he is still proud. He found the process of working with and learning from his peers rewarding, and noted that education in graduate school comes as much from peer-to-peer interactions as it does from formal in-class instruction.
Yost provided some advice to students interested in health policy careers. He emphasized the importance of education in instilling knowledge, developing experience, and forming relationships, and he noted that students should welcome the invaluable opportunity to be exposed to and familiar with the quantitative side of policy making. In addition, he encourages students interested in public service to consider work at all levels of government, as health policy plays out on the federal, state, and local levels. In particular, Yost recommended gaining some local experience in health to understand how policies affect people “on the ground.” He noted that the private sector works extensively in the health care field as well, and that the public and private sectors will always interact on these issues.