Taking A More Local Approach

In the beginning of my research endeavor — with a slight shift of focus — my advisor and I made the decision to recenter our public health concerns and look more closely at the communities in which we, specifically, engage. This meant narrowing the lens of our concern and asking questions about the public health matters that affected Virginia and, more specifically, Williamsburg.

Proper healthcare — and the access that Americans have to it– is one of the biggest discussions throughout the country at this time. With rising costs of living and lowering income levels, many American families are forced to make compromises in the area of their health in order to meet more present needs. In an effort to combat this nature of compromise and lessen the overall coverage gap, the Affordable Care Act offered a provision for Medicaid expansion that would extend Medicaid eligibility to more low-income Americans. In my research, I looked to analyze the specific effect that Medicaid expansion has had on Virginia residents and their access to/quality of healthcare.

This research is particularly interesting because it has the potential of being some of the first of its kind. Researchers from other states have asked the question of Medicaid expansions’ effects in their regions, but little to no research has been published that specifically engages with the state of Virginia.

With this research, I’m not looking to chart improvements in any one specific area of health concern (ie. improvements in diabetes related illness or cancer related illness), but rather I am looking to gain some insight into the ways in which the extension of coverage has affected the likelihood that Virginians have sought/will seek medical attention and how often this access has resulted in health improvements.