Capitol Dome with UC Davis alumnus Caliph Assagai

Health Care Politics and Policy at the Seat of State Government

A collaboration with the UC Center Sacramento

Who should take this experience?

Healthcare Politics and Policy Flyer

Students interested in health care who want to understand relevant policy and politics.  

Open to students from any major, this experience has particular appeal to students majoring in Political Science, Public Service, Communication, Sociology, Community Development or the life sciences as well as those minoring in Public Health.  

Offered Fall 2022

Apply Now

The US health care system suffers from poor integration and coordination of care, inconsistent outcomes, and gross inequities in access and treatment: a national problem for which politics are largely to blame. The history of health policy is a window into US politics: political battles of the past have shaped the health care landscape of the present. 

The story of health care in the United States is in part the story of a political system that has in many cases failed to meet the challenges before it. Yet there have also been moments of triumph, including Medicare, Medicaid, the rapid development of effective Covid vaccines, and at least in California, a form of “managed competition” that mostly works.

Studying health care from a political perspective integrates policy research, the legislative process, as well as an understanding of the clinical issues themselves. 

Students completing the program will gain a deeper understanding of how health policy is developed and implemented in the crucible of politics; acquire practical skills in data analysis, visualization, and interpretation; obtain direct experience in a health-policy-related internship; and network with students from multiple UC campuses, faculty from multiple UC Davis departments, and policymakers and advocates from across the health policy landscape. 

This program is offered in collaboration with the UC Center Sacramento.  

QAS students will join UCCS student colleagues from throughout the UC system in professional development activities, extended curriculum, and certain course offerings, while taking POL 108, a specially designed course for QAS, and participating in healthcare-specific internships. Courses are planned to take place at the UCCS, 1130 K Street, Sacramento. 




This experience offers courses in political science, and internships in the health care environment.

  • POL 108: Politics of Health Care (4 units) - MacKenzie and Kravitz
  • This new course will address contentious issues in health policy through both historical and contemporary lenses. Students will be introduced to the historical antecedents of today’s debates; the composition, positions, and relative strengths of policy rivals; and use of tools derived from political science, economics, and public health to analyze different aspects of these issues. Throughout the course, a series of case studies will be used to expand upon lecture/discussion and serve as the basis for work in small groups. 

    Among the issues to be considered are the politics of:
     Medicare, Medicaid, and Universal Coverage; Abortion and Reproductive Rights; Managed Competition, Cost Containment, and Health Care Rationing; Licensing and Credentialing of Health ProfessionalsQuality and Costs of Prescription Drugs; Mental HealthGun Control as a Public Health Issue; Health Equity and Health Disparities.
  • POL 196E: Research Methods in Public Policy (4 units) - Kujala
  • The ability to understand, interpret, and produce empirical evidence and translate it for use in policy debates is often the first step in shaping political dialog related to health care. Topics will include experimental design, case studies and case series, survey and questionnaire design, sampling, measurement construction and reliability, data collection and analysis, and hypothesis testing.
  • POL 192A: Internship in Public Policy (6 units)- Kravitz
  • Through this UCCS-based course, students will be placed in internships with the California Legislature, the Governor’s Office, state agencies and departments, and various non-profit concerns and advocacy groups – all in the health or healthcare sector.  
  • POL 193: Policy Analysis Practicum (2 units)- Kujala
  • This UCCS course supports students in their internships through debriefings, discussions, and sharing of lessons from internships, including policy developments, political insights, and negotiating complex work relationships.
  • POL 198: Topics in Policy and Research ( 2 units; optional) - Kravitz
  • In a series of weekly seminars, this optional course offers the opportunity to take a “deeper dive” into the methods of policy analysis and political communication.  Sample topics from past seminars include Crafting a Research Policy Question; How to Find Data; Introduction to STATA and R; and How to Write a Policy Brief.  


The internship (POL 192A) is coordinated by UCCS. Students will be placed in internships with offices such as:   

Two student interns at the state capitol
  • California Legislature / Governor's Office
    • *UCCS will seek placements with legislative offices with Members on health committees, or executive offices with health-related projects
  • State agencies and departments such as the California Department of Public Health
  • Non-profits and advocacy groups in the health and healthcare sectors, such as the California Medical Association and Latino Health Coalition

Students commit 20 hours per week to the internship.  Internships are generally unpaid but yield up to 7 units of course credit (5 for internship work through POL 192A and 2 units for reflection and discussion through POL 193).  The internship is an educational experience in which students learn about the mission, culture, and problem-solving approaches of the host site. In many cases, a project at the internship becomes the nidus of the student’s capstone project (for POL 108 and 196E).


Students will benefit from guest lectures and participation by UC Davis faculty from the School of Medicine and School of Law, as well as professors from sister campuses, state organizations, and NGOs. 

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About the UC Center Sacramento

The University of California Center Sacramento advances the University’s mission of teaching, research and public service with an integrated program to train future state leaders, to address challenging public-policy issues confronted by the nation and state, and to carry out the University’s mandate to assist state government.