Start by reading Chapter 14. Focus on the Problem Statement and Background sections. 

This week you need to decide as a group on the problem or issue to which you will conduct policy analysis. There are many health-related issues that can be assessed, analyzed, and for which a policy can be recommended. Options will be limited to the three following subjects:

1. COVID-19 – Do we need to have a policy related to this? If so, think about it from a health policy perspective (Testing, Contact Tracing, Billing, etc.,)

2. Reimbursement models for Telehealth. What policies can be put in place to facilitate expected and appropriate reimbursements?

3. Patient Experience- with all of the pandemic incidences, what policies can we put in place to ensure the patients continue to receive good quality healthcare and health care experience?

Keep in mind, the best problem statements are those that reflect personal experiences. As you reflect this week on your health system encounter, you may identify a problem you would like to address based on that.

Once you determine your focus area, you will draft a problem statement to which you will eventually in later weeks come up with a policy recommendation. You will support your Problem Statement with Background information about the issue. The background section will introduce your problem, present its history as well as its current status and why it’s important, and, if relevant, discuss some of the previous attempts to address the problem. You will support this section with research, data, etc. from credible resources.

Suggestion: In the Introductions, students have mentioned Google Docs as a good resource for working together on an assignment where everyone can contribute to and edit a shared document. 

Example: We all know and have observed that drugs are expensive but safety is one of the concerns that we may need to consider when discussing various options. So there will be different options on how you want to approach this issue as a group. Below are two examples of problem statements with completely different policy implications.

  • Allowing the importation of drugs from Canada or Mexico into the US increases the likelihood that unsafe or ineffective drugs are distributed in the US market. What policy options will you consider to assure American consumers are protected from corrupt importers?
  • Allowing the importation of drugs from Canada or Mexico into the US increases competition in the pharmaceutical market and decreases costs to consumers. What policy options will you consider to increase the importation of safe and effective drugs into the US? 

Both of these statements will then need be supported by the Background section:

  • Why the issue is important? Evidence and data on the high cost of drugs and the corresponding burden on patients (statistics, data, research studies)
  • Factual information (statistics, data, research studies from credible sources) presenting a complete picture not only the stakeholder’s position. In this case, you will include: 
    • Evidence on the safety concerns associated with imported drugs.
    • Evidence on how competition helps decrease the cost of drugs
    • Evidence on any other relevant viewpoints 

Example Sources (attached under optional resources):

Ashley D. The Price of Crossing the Border for Medications. N Engl J Med. 2017 Oct 26;377(17):1699.

Fralick MD, Avorn J, Kesselheim A.mThe Price of Crossing the Border for Medications. N Engl J Med 2017; 377:311-313.

Espinoza J. Introduction to Health Policy Analysis. Milken Institute School of Public Health. The George Washington University. Winter/Spring 2016.

Reminders:

  • Make sure that you have already read Chapter 14 to ensure that group discussions are meaningful.
  • Make sure that everyone in your FP group has established contact and is on the same page.
  • Whenever, you need to communicate with me about your group, please include your Group #.

The instructions below are common to all group assignment submissions.

  • Place an asterisk next to the person’s name(s) who did not communicate at all for this assignment.  As you may know, some excruciating/emergency circumstances happen. If a member communicates and justifies their lack of contribution and promises to make it up later, feel free to accommodate that person and not to identify them; this is a group decision. For those with excruciating/emergency circumstances, please keep me in the loop.
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