Law and Policy at the Georgia Health Policy Center

During the fall semester, four graduate research assistants from the College of Law worked with the Georgia Health Policy Center on several initiatives related to health reform and children’s behavioral health in Georgia. The law GRAs, Sophia Horn (J.D./M.S.H.A. ’18), Edward Molinary (J.D./M.S.H.A. ’19), Prathyusha Chenji (J.D. ’19), and Yasmin Assar (J.D. ’18), were supervised by friends of the Center for Health Law and Society senior research associates Melissa Haberlen (J.D. ’11, M.P.H. ’12) and Bill Rencher (M.P.H. ’12), with Nathan Chong (J.D./M.S.H.A. ’18) joining for spring semester.

The Georgia Health Policy Center, housed at Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, advances health and well-being through research, policy analysis, workforce development and technical assistance. With more than two decades of experience, the center’s work addresses complex health issues, including access to care, health care financing, and the social determinants of health.

Haberlen serves as the policy and finance lead for the Center of Excellence for Children’s Behavioral Health, created in partnership with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities’ Office of Children, Young Adults, and Families. Her team provides assistance to child-serving state agencies and organizations through systems mapping and policy modeling; research on innovative financing opportunities; research, analysis, and mapping of children’s behavioral health services, use, and access; and policy reviews.

Rencher, who also has an J.D., is a member of Medicaid Policy and Business Team.  Working under a contract with the Georgia Department of Community Health, the team supports DCH by conducting policy analyses and evaluations of Georgia Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance programs. Rencher’s work focuses on federal health care laws and regulations and compliance reviews.

In addition, as core members of the GHPC’s Health Reform Work Group, composed of faculty and staff from across the university, including associate professor of law Erin Fuse-Brown, both Haberlen and Rencher have researched and written numerous briefs on health reform topics over the past year.

Under the direction of Haberlen and Rencher, the students have worked on a variety of projects related to public health, behavioral health, and law.

“Having GRAs from the College of Law assist with our work at GHPC has been a win-win,” Haberlen said. “The GRAs get the chance to put their legal skills into practice analyzing real world health policy, as well as learn other skills not typically taught in law school, such as policy research, analysis, and presentation. GHPC benefits from having their assistance with work that closely involves the law, such as tracking legislation, researching regulations, and assisting with compliance reviews.”

“We are excited to continue and strengthen our relationship with the College of Law and look forward to hosting more law GRAs in the future,” Rencher said.