By Larry Atkins
Making Colorado the healthiest state in the nation is the focus of Katherine Blair ’04, health policy adviser in Governor John Hickenlooper’s Office of Policy, Research, and Legislative Affairs.
She is helping the governor accomplish his vision.
“Colorado created the first bipartisan health insurance exchange in the country, which will launch in late 2013 as Connect for Health Colorado,” says Blair. “C4HC will provide consumers with access to affordable health insurance options and enable them to make apples-to-apples comparisons.
“We’re working to make our health system a national leader by focusing on providing the best care and the best health outcomes at the lowest cost,” she says. “For example, we’ve committed to trimming $280 million out of our Medicaid budget over the next 10 years through administrative changes. In that same time period, we expect to be covering roughly 270,000 more people through the program.”
Also on Blair’s agenda is the importance of prevention in public health. “We have selected 10 ‘winnable battles’—public health priorities in which we can make significant progress in a short period of time. Our top three initiatives are combating obesity, promoting better mental health and lower substance use, and supporting access to oral health.
“Being a policy adviser is an exciting way to affect change. While some key health reforms—like the Affordable Care Act—originate at the federal level, many decisions are left up to the states. We need to make decisions that are right for our residents.”
Blair says that her Lafayette experiences prepared her well and helped her be flexible in her career.
“I benefited from Lafayette’s emphasis on interdisciplinary education,” she says. “As a double major in religion & politics and history, I combined learning across departments. I explored a variety of issues and developed many important skill sets that help me evaluate different points of view and varying perspectives.” She adds that her Technology Clinic course was a great way to gain real-world experience.
Having the opportunity to discuss career options with other students and colleagues in different fields was also helpful.
“I met my best friends at Lafayette within the first few days of freshman year,” says Blair, “and I am still in touch with them. Some, including Ryann Dubiel ’04 and Frances Mahoney ’04, have even moved out to Colorado.”
Blair is a member of Council of Lafayette Women and assists the Office of Admissions with recruiting efforts in Colorado. She also serves on several nonprofit and advisory boards and teaches in the Healthcare Leadership master’s degree program at the University of Denver, helping students learn the importance of public policy.