Can you believe it’s almost August?

Weird Zucchini (6 July 2017)
A possibly-cross-pollinated squash in my garden (July 2017)


I realize it has been some time since I last wrote. For a while, I was periodically compiling articles and essays on health and healthcare issues, but the last few months have been… a lot to keep up with. The Republicans’ push to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (also called “Obamacare”- a moniker I never embraced for many reasons), has kept health policy scholars and practitioners on their toes. As a PhD student whose research topic is closely related to the status of the Affordable Care Act- particularly its individual mandate and Medicaid expansions at the state level- I have had sleepless nights reading CBO (Congressional Budget Office) estimates of the the latest iteration of the bill and following the astute analysis of health policy experts.

Now that we are in a bit of a quiet moment (worry not, there will be a new version of a bill to “repeal and replace” the ACA- and likely other bills that tack in amendments to the ACA repealing taxes that fund its implementation), I find myself thinking about the significance of my own work.

Research on healthcare service accessibility, healthcare provider locations and availability and so on is largely based on point in time data. Membership datasets are reflective of the archival practices of said professional organization’s staff. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) datasets are based on buy-in on the part of providers. Are they enrolled as providers with the specified program? How do they differ from those who are not? And with the state of the Census Bureau under the current administration and the anticipated exclusion of gender identity and sexual minority status from the decennial census questionnaire, I have concerns about future demographic datasets.

These questions, among others, make me think of the urgency of my work. If I do not publish in a timely manner, I will have a paper that is based on data that is 3 years old. The “publish or perish” mentality has seeped into my skin.

So with that, I have been revising a manuscript I started 10 months ago. It started off as a multi-scale spatial analysis project- state, county, city. Now it has been split into two projects to allow for more in-depth analysis at each spatial scale. Revisiting the datasets has been a humbling reminder of the importance of data cleanup as a process of getting to know the data itself. It has also been humbling to expand my knowledge of statistical methods and embrace new tools. R? Python? SPSS plug-ins? 

How’s your summer been so far?




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