A dozen HSPH doctoral and master’s students helped craft Vermont’s health care reform proposal, from interviewing hundreds of Vermonters and crunching the data to drafting parts of the report.
Some students looked on as Governor Peter Shumlin signed the bill into law. Others, like Susan Powers Sparkes, saw the report presented to the legislature. Said Sparkes, who just finished her first year as a doctoral student in the Department of Global Health and Population, “You dream of having experiences like this—the direct application of what you’re learning.”
Hsiao held weekly sessions at which students presented their work. “It was a great real-world project, but Professor Hsiao added that educational piece,” said Sparkes, who has worked at the World Bank on health financing for developing countries. “He had high expectations, and he created the environment to help us meet them.”
Was it clear which option would win? Sparkes says no, but that option three emerged from the rigors of economic modeling and the practical realities of what was sustainable, what made political sense, and what was best for the people’s health. “For Vermont,” she said, “this is a huge step in the right direction.”