Indiana University researchers Elaine Hernandez and David Craig, along with First Baptist Church North Indianapolis Senior Minister Ivan Douglas Hicks, have been selected to join the newest cohort of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, a leadership program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to build a culture of health.
The IU team will focus on health care access, an area which has been particularly challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. For individuals looking to enroll in or maintain enrollment in Medicaid, administrative burdens – including the process of completing documentation and the stigma associated with engaging in government programs – can make the process more difficult.
Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, the federal government has provided additional funding to states that adopted protocols that allow beneficiaries to maintain continuous coverage. Some states, like Indiana, adjusted requirements in response. These shifts allow researchers a unique opportunity to study changes in Medicaid administrative burdens and the ways they affect beneficiaries when they seek coverage.
“Nearly two million people in Indiana are currently enrolled in Medicaid, about one in four people,” said Hernandez, an assistant professor of sociology at IU Bloomington. “We plan to study whether lowering the hurdles they normally face helped move us closer to racial and ethnic equity in health care access.”
The team will examine whether reducing Medicaid administrative burdens changed racial and ethnic inequities in health care access. Ultimately, they hope to develop strategies that make it easier to enroll in and utilize Medicaid and plan to disseminate their findings to help inform decisions about Medicaid policy.