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Editor’s Note: This is the third three blogs introducing new News Team members. The first one can be found here and the second one can be found here.

My name is Kaia Ordal, and I am a new member of the Human Health News Team this year. I am a current senior at Emory University, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Predictive Health. Some of my interests within the human health field include neonatal health, the politics of organ donation, female reproductive health, and the impact of the pharmaceutical industry on public health. I am also interested in health policy, including the formulation, implementation, and regulation of health care. I learned more about these interests through my internship at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in Washington D.C.

During this internship, I was able to witness firsthand the importance of non-profit organizations in policy, particularly health policy. The AAMC is one of the key associations that helped push the Affordable Care Act through congress. When most people think about Medicare, health policy, and insurance mandates, they think of the federal government. Many people might picture the president sitting at his desk in the oval office designing every facet of the United States healthcare system. During my tenure at the AAMC, I learned that, up until 2010, the U.S. healthcare system was largely a reflection of minimal policymaking and maximum lobbyist involvement.

Associations like the AAMC and the American Medical Association had the power to make or break the success of a healthcare policy proposed by the President. One such example was Clinton’s Health Security Act that was largely unsuccessful due to the millions of dollars spent by the American Medical Association on advertisements that smeared the bill. Health policy has had a surprising lack of policy change since FDR’s New Deal in 1933 (in comparison to other issues like urban or educational policy). Major health policy reform has often been a source of gridlock in congress, because the subject often brings broader issues to the surface, such as socialism and the viability of welfare spending.

Through my internship at the AAMC, I learned information about health policy that is still largely unclear to the American public. There is a transparency issue with not only health policy, but also American public policymaking in general. There is a need for an approachable and accessible source of information that makes the world of policy, specifically health policy, less daunting to the American public. While that may be a difficult goal to achieve, progress toward it can be made by journalists and writers alike. This blog, for example, is a step in the right direction to help health policy seem more approachable and less daunting. It is a goal of mine to do just that this year, and to thoughtfully write each of my posts with the intent on increasing awareness and knowledge of not only health policy issues, but also public health in general. I look forward to posting health policy updates that will break down and simplify the confusing entity that is health policy.