Maternal Health Advocate Emily Eckert (HAP '20)
Emily Eckert is a vocal advocate for improving access to quality health care for pregnant and postpartum women and has published several articles on the topic, including Preserving the Momentum to Extend Postpartum Medicaid Coverage, published in Women’s Health Issues.
Eckert brings her expertise in and passion for maternal health to her education and her career. She is finishing her Master of Science in Health Policy at Mason and will graduate this winter. She currently works for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as a policy manager. Once she receives her degree, she plans to continue working as an advocate for women’s health care and aspires to a role in public service at the federal or state level.
Eckert’s final project in Applied Health Policy focused on maternal mortality in the United States and explored how this crisis relates to Medicaid eligibility pathways for pregnant women. “The analysis compared two legislative proposals introduced in the 116th Congress that would address our nation’s maternal health crisis by extending eligibility for pregnancy-related Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months postpartum. Each legislative proposal was evaluated based on political feasibility, operational feasibility, cost-benefit, and effectiveness. The circumstances underlying coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were also taken into consideration, as the pandemic has upended many parts of our health care system and seriously strained our nation’s health care safety net, including the Medicaid program. The analysis concluded with recommendations for a client regarding which policy to support,” says Eckert. She was pleased to report that one of the pieces of legislation included in her analysis, HR 4996: the Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (Helping MOMS) Act, was just passed by the House of Representatives on September 29.
During her time in the health policy program, Eckert had a great experience with her classes and the faculty. “I have enjoyed getting to know my professors and connecting with them about my goals and ambitions for Mason and beyond,” she says.
Eckert’s advice to her fellow Mason students is to consider pursuing graduate studies on a part-time basis while working full-time. She entered Mason fully-inclined to study health policy. As time went on, she became interested in health services research as well. Her courses in both these fields have helped further her knowledge and advance her career. She states, “I think the lesson is to keep an open mind; you never know where your career will take you.”