Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Washington D.C.

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February 25, 2008

Looking at Health Policy in Washington D.C.

Professor of Political Science David Hadley will be escorting nine students from his Health Policy class to Washington, D.C. over spring break to get a crash course in the policy-making process.

Dr. Hadley teaches PSC-311: Congress and the Presidency.  According to Dr. Hadley, the class was designed to get students acquainted with two major policy-making institutions and how they operate and interact with one another. The focus on healthcare gives the students a policy area that has been particularly active in the past and is at the forefront of the national agenda again.

 In class, the students have been read accounts and analyses of the efforts of both presidents’ and congresses attempt to reform the American healthcare system – from Lyndon Johnson’s successful attempt in 1965 with Medicare to Bill Clinton’s unsuccessful attempt in 1993. The manner in which the policies are crafted and the ways they are sold to and perceived by the American people are also focuses of the class. The role of special interest groups, lobbyists, and bureaucrats are part of the class’s analysis as well.

The trip to Washington, D.C. gives the students a chance to meet the actual players in the policy-making game about which they have been reading.  Dr. Hadley and the students will depart Saturday, March 1, 2008 and will return Saturday, March 8, 2008. They will meet with legislative aides of congressmen who have dealt with the crafting of health policy, and they are scheduled to meet with the Congressman who represents Crawfordsville’s district, Steve Buyer. The students will also meet with advisors to key congressional committees, lobbyists, and interest groups, including Jesse Price, Manager of Federal Affairs for Eli Lilly.

“The goal is to move us from the abstract and theoretical to the real and practical,” Hadley said. “The idea is to give the students the opportunity, after having read about congress and the presidency and interest groups and the bureaucracy, to really hear from participants in the process. It gives them a chance to learn from the people themselves how they got into the process, how they see the process, and how they operate within it. When we talk about congress and the presidency, when we talk about national policy it’s important for students to see the policy has real effects. And I think to give students some sense that they are not only effected by it but could have a role to play in the policy making process. I think it’s a kind of civic education for students who go on the trip and who are in the course.”

Student Participants: Callum Davies, Jared Graber, Michael Hotz, Alexander Ingram, Gary James, Stephen Maynard, Andrew Newkirk, Kyle O'Keefe, George Padgitt, Cassius Rovenstine, Jonathan Torrez.

James will be coordinating the students writing throughout the D.C. visit.