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Who's in CHARGE?: Brandy Lipton, PhD

April 20, 2022

Who's in CHARGE? spotlights a member of the AAMC Collaborative for Health equity: Act, Research, Generate Evidence (CHARGE), a forum for investigators, clinicians, and community partners who design and implement research that eliminates health and health care inequities. Today we're featuring Brandy Lipton, PhD, Assistant Professor at San Diego State University School of Public Health in San Diego, CA. You can meet other health equity champions like Brandy when you join CHARGE.

Brandy Lipton, PhD

What sparked your interest in health equity or health disparities work?
My research focuses on Medicaid policy, which is a powerful tool to reduce health disparities. I think it is important to track which policies reduce which health inequities. For example, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s dependent coverage provision led to a meaningful increase in health insurance coverage among young adults, but most research suggests that the provision did not reduce racial and ethnic disparities for this group. Some of my own research suggests that the later implementation of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion was more effective in reducing disparities among young adults. That is one example where a policy had its intended effect, but it is still important to understand whether some groups benefit more than others, and why or why not.

Why does health equity matter to you? Why should health equity matter to other people?
Health and health care access are inextricably linked to economic outcomes and overall well-being. In the US, we experience large disparities across all of these dimensions. I think everyone should have access to basic health care and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Health equity should matter to everyone because by reducing disparities, we will all benefit as a society.

What health-equity related project are you most proud of or excited about?
One study published in the July 2021 “Borders, Immigrants & Health” special issue of Health Affairs examined California’s 2016 Medi-Cal expansion to undocumented children and found that the policy led to a substantial reduction in health insurance coverage disparities by citizenship status. Access to public health insurance coverage for children who are not citizens depends on where they live, and undocumented children are still not eligible in most states regardless of their family incomes. It was exciting to see that California’s policy had such a meaningful effect. My fantastic collaborators on this research included my former student Jefferson Nguyen and colleague Melody Schiaffino. Of course, I’m also excited about work in progress examining telemedicine use and health care access using the AAMC Consumer Survey of Health Care Access with my collaborator Mike Pesko!

Do you have any health equity heroes?
There are so many amazing people and organizations doing important work to advance health equity. Ben Sommers is one of my Medicaid research heroes. He has done important work on the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and Medicaid work requirements (among many other topics), and how these policies affect healthcare disparities. Arturo Vargas Bustamante has been a leader in investigating disparities in health care access by ethnicity and immigration status. I also really appreciate the Kaiser Family Foundation for disseminating information on healthcare disparities and making it accessible to the general public. There are too many others to mention!

Follow Brandy on Twitter @brandyjlipton.

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