Highlights from the Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference: Part I

By Guest Blogger Dan Traficonte

Recently, the Petrie-Flom Center sent me to the 6th Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference in downtown Boston, where students, researchers and health professionals from around the world gathered to network and share ideas. The conference’s focus covered a broad range of pressing global health issues, including the Ebola crisis of 2014, food security, and the impact of climate change on the health of populations worldwide. I was able to meet and chat with many people doing fascinating work in the global health field, and I will highlight here a few of the most interesting presentations linked directly to issues of law, governance, and health policy.

Dr. Pooja Agrawal from the Yale School of Medicine presented her research on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on health insurance access, coverage, and costs for refugees resettled in the United States. Dr. Agrawal’s research sought to assess the relationship between refugee resettlement patterns and improvements to health insurance access created by the ACA—specifically, are refugees in the United States generally able to benefit from the enactment of Medicaid expansion and implementation of healthcare insurance exchanges?

Using a cross-sectional analysis of 2012 refugee resettlement data from all 50 states, Dr. Agrawal compared resettlement trends for states that have expanded Medicaid and implemented exchange schemes and those states that have not. The results of this analysis indicate that in 2012, more refugees were resettled to states that have not expanded Medicaid or created state health insurance exchanges. Though there is currently no data on the effect of these differences on refugee health outcomes, these results implicate important policy concerns: specifically, the architects of refugee resettlement policies may choose to consider between-state variation in access to insurance as a result of the ACA in devising resettlement strategies. Dr. Agrawal’s research highlights an often-underemphasized area of intersection of law and social policy, and calls for more research on the impact of the ACA on refugee populations in the United States.

Dan Traficonte is a 1L at Harvard Law School interested in the intersection of global health and international development.