Advocating for health care in the state capitol
Rallying at the state Capitol for a single-payer health plan (Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

QAS Announces "Health Care Politics and Policy at the Seat of State Government"

Quick Summary

  • The story of health care in the US is inextricably linked with politics, as we can see from the politically charged response to Covid mitigation efforts. UC Davis students can study the politics of health care policy in Sacramento this winter.
Postponed to Fall 2022. Learn more here.

A new Quarter at Aggie Square experience will introduce undergraduate students to the complex relationship between government and health care through interdisciplinary coursework and internships in Sacramento.

Launching Winter 2022, the latest curriculum to join the UC Davis - Sacramento collaboration will bring students to the California’s capitol to learn how political decisions can influence the delivery of health care.

The experience is a collaboration led by Richard Kravitz, MD, professor of internal medicine, and Scott MacKenzie, associate professor of political science. Kravitz and MacKenzie aim to introduce undergraduates pursuing health care professions to the interdisciplinary study of politics and policy through case studies, a policy research project, and practical experience.

The Politics of Health Care

The relationship between politics and health care is paramount for Kravitz, who also holds a master’s in public health.

“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,” he says.

“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 Covid-19 pandemic offers a window into the impacts of politics on health care delivery. The fault line that has emerged around prevention and mitigation policies impacts everyday life more than many of us could have imagined. How did masks and vaccines become so polarized?

But the pandemic is only the most current and visible issue in the long history of US politics and health care.

“The history of health policy is a window into US politics,” says Kravitz. “Political battles of the past have shaped the health care landscape of the present, from the Affordable Care Act to access to prescription drugs to abortion.”

Studying Contentious Health Care Issues through a Public Policy Lens

Coursework for the program will approach historically politicized health care issues such as reproductive rights, mental health, gun control, and health disparities using analytical tools derived from political science, economics, and public health. 

A public policy research methods course will introduce tools such as experimental design, case studies and case series, survey and questionnaire design, sampling, measurement construction and reliability, data collection and analysis, and hypothesis testing. Those methods will guide students’ own research and also inform the policy analysis practicum, a UCCS course that enhances the internship experience by providing weekly group discussion and analysis. Both courses are taught by Jordan Kujala, PhD.

Internships at the Seat of Government

The experience is a collaboration with the UC Center Sacramento, which Kravitz directs. The center, which has hosted students from all UC campuses since 2004, will place students in healthcare-related internships with the California Legislature, the Governor’s Office, state agencies and departments, and various non-profit concerns and advocacy groups.


UC Davis students can learn more, express interest, or apply for this experience. Students can earn GE credit as well as units that count toward Applications are due October 8, 2021.