Xin Nong spent a weekend in Indianapolis considering different ways a fictitious U.S. city could adjust health-care services, treatment and finance options to improve quality of care, lower costs and reduce disparities in health-care outcomes.
The exercise was a policy simulation sponsored by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, an international membership organization of graduate education programs in public policy, public affairs, public administration, and public and nonprofit management.
Nong, a first-year student in the La Follette School's Master of International Public Affairs degree program, was one of three members on a team that competed. After reviewing policy options, his group and eight others designed a package of health policy and finance options, drawing on the simulation's options.
"We selected seven health policy and finance options that we thought would lead to significant reform," Nong says. "Our policies included enabling healthier behaviors, reducing environmental hazards, improving care for chronic mental illness and coordinating health care."
His team, which included a student from Ohio State University and another from Indiana University in Bloomington, also picked three ways of financing health care.
Their first option resulted in a reduction of 20 or 30 percent in hospital revenues and a $40,000 reduction in doctors' salaries. "We had to evaluate the impact of policy changes on various stakeholders," Nong says. "Those financial losses were too great, so we worked more with the simulator and came up with a proposal that involved less of a reduction in salaries and revenues."
Other activities involved marking presentations and structuring how the health-care reforms would be carried out.