Heinz review journal examines health care issues

Every publication has to start sometime.

For the Heinz School Review (HSR), that start was in fall 2003, when six students came up with the idea to create an online policy journal for the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management as part of their “systems synthesis” project. Now in its third year, the HSR has grown to 15 staff members and has just released its fifth issue, which focuses on global health care issues.

According to Robert Gutierrez, the editor-in-chief of the HSR and a master’s student in public policy and management, this issue comes at an important time for health care in the United States.

“The nation is still wrestling with many of these difficult issues,” Gutierrez stated. “Ultimately, it comes down to looking out for the well-being of its citizens, which I’d say is a basic human right.”

The issue focuses on a wide range of topics, including cross-border health care between the United States and Mexico, AIDS/HIV prevention, price controls on pharmaceutical drugs, and mental health parity implications.

“It’s a global issue as well,” said Deepti Gudipati, an editor for the HSR and a master’s student in public policy and management. “You see a gap between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, in all countries.”

Anyone interested in an issue’s topic can submit an article, though the most common contributors are still Heinz faculty and students. The HSR staff has been trying to network with other existing policy journals, including The Public Record, a journal published by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. The HSR is also planning to send representatives to national policy conferences to raise awareness of the journal.

In addition to editing a piece on pharmaceutical price controls by a group of students at the University of Chicago, Gutipati also submitted a paper on health care in rural India. Her piece focuses on the rural-urban divide in India and how globalization has affected the traditional Siddha healers in rural India as they compete with and work alongside modern doctors.

“There’s a very international population at Heinz, and a lot of people are from developing nations,” Gutipati said. “Even for people who might not have had experience with rural areas and developing nations, this might provide some food for thought.”

In addition to articles by Heinz students and faculty, there are two interviews with professionals in health care — one with Karen Feinstein, president of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation in Pittsburgh, and another with Jonathan Gruber, a professor of economics at MIT who worked on the “universal” Massachusetts health insurance coverage plan.

“The journal is aiming to be an electronic version of The Economist and less like a traditional academic print journal,” stated Genevieve Nolan, an editor and master’s student in public policy and management. “The goal is to fill a niche that to date has been left void.”

Typically, the HSR has four to six policy papers devoted to a broad range of subjects within a general theme, an interview with a professional in the relevant field, several short policy memos, and a book review. Since the journal’s readership is mostly Heinz students and faculty, the journal was initially designed for them, though as the journal’s audience has increased, so has its accessibility.

“Public policy is really about keeping things ‘public,’ ” Gutierrez stated. “So we try to follow that maxim.”

While the first few issues were a “hodge-podge” of policy papers, the current format has changed.

“The last three issues have been dedicated to what we consider critical policy issues,” faculty advisor and professor of political science and international relations Silvia Borzutzky stated. “And since the Heinz School has a health care management program, it made a lot of sense for us to focus on health care.”

Previous issues of the journal have dealt with subjects such as Pittsburgh development issues, feminism, and globalization.

Editors are still considering future topics, including technology in policy and relations between Latin America and the United States.