Harris Health Briefs

GPHAP students from Harris Public Policy may publish articles in the Harris Health Briefs, a student-run program that publishes digestible analyses of complex issues and the policies surrounding them. Below, we feature some articles written by GPHAP students on health policy.

Expanded Medicaid Eligibility Reduces Debt for Low-Income Individuals

By Samuel Fuchs, January 23, 2017

In 2009, when President Obama placed healthcare at the top of his agenda, the weight of healthcare costs on individuals was a driving media narrative. Stories about families losing their homes to pay for cancer treatments added a human face to the fact that medical expenses are one of the most common causes of bankruptcy. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the improvement in financial security of low-income populations is not often cited as a clear benefit of healthcare reform, perhaps because it is hard to measure. Simply counting the insured before and after the ACA is a research challenge, and measuring the ACA’s impact on individual’s financial status is even trickier.


Is Patient Activation the Answer? Engaged Patients Could Yield Lower Costs for Hospitals

By Matthew Green, June 22, 2016

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are growing rapidly in the United States because of new pay-for-performance incentives under the Affordable Care Act. These provider networks currently cover more than 28 million patients across the country, whereby they agree to cover a set number of patients for a fixed cost per year. One of the central tenets of the ACO model involves providers agreeing to take on some level of financial risk for the patients in the population they choose to manage (e.g., patients within certain geographic areas, patients with certain conditions), because the health systems are no longer reimbursed for each individual service that they provide. Thus, it has become critical for providers to have a better understanding of which patients are at high risk for excessive utilization, since those patients could have a large impact on a health system’s bottom line.


Does Access to School-Based Healthcare Reduce Teen Birth Rates and Lead to More High School Completion?

By Ivy Sun, April 18, 2016

Access to affordable healthcare for low-income Americans has become a preeminent policy concern in the US. Even though the expansion of Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has been able to provide health insurance coverage for most children from low-income families, the actual realization of health services still depends on the affordability and convenience of effective healthcare. It has been well documented that Medicaid access can lead not only to better health, but also to more stable household finances and higher educational attainment and earnings. However, inadequate access to primary care services among low-income families may preclude individuals from realizing these benefits, which would make the roughly $86 billion the US spends on Medicaid for children less effective.

Trastornos de salud mental son más frecuentes de lo que se piensa

By Mauricio Lopez, November 7, 2016

En México, del total del presupuesto asignado a la salud, aproximadamente el 2% esta destinado a la salud mental y, de ese porcentaje, 80% es asignado a hospitales que proveen servicios de nivel altamente especializado (servicios terciarios o de tercer nivel). Como resultado, éstos hospitales casi exclusivamente atienden a pacientes con diagnósticos graves. Bajo esta distribución de recursos, pareciera que los problemas de salud mental sólo se originan en esta magnitud de gravedad, y que su frecuencia es baja y poco predecible a lo largo de la vida en comparación con otros tipos de enfermedades y afectaciones.


Looking at Effects of Tennessee Medicaid Contraction on Adult Hospitalizations

By Mauricio Lopez, October 20, 2015

The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansions increased coverage by incorporating previously neglected groups into the eligibility criteria of Medicaid insurance—in particular, low-income, non-elderly adults. Individuals falling into this category were previously treated as “optional” Medicaid beneficiaries. It was up to each state to decide whether or not to expand its coverage by including this group as beneficiaries.