Ben Schwartz ’18, is from San Diego, California. He is double majoring in Neurobiology and Religious Studies.
This summer, I interned with the Cancer Policy Institute (CPI) at the Cancer Support Community. Based in Washington DC, the Cancer Policy Institute strives to both examine current bills that relate to cancer treatment and research as well as develop original policy proposals that address key areas of health policy. Through my work at CPI, I researched biosimilars, a new class of pharmaceuticals analogous to “generics” that has proven useful in cancer treatment and prevention. Given biosimilars’ relatively new status in the medical field, I felt that it was important that policy suggestions, pertaining to both the federal and local levels, were formulated to ensure that patients and doctors were as informed as possible about the cost, applicability, and efficiency of biosimilars.
That said, my summer did not consist entirely of intensive science! In fact, my favorite part of my summer dealt with palliative care, something I definitely did not expect to love learning about while in Washington. On July 22, I participated in the Patient Quality of Life Coalition’s (PQLC) Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. The PQLC advocates for greater access to palliative care, increased funding for training of medical professionals, and comprehensive public education on the benefits of palliative and end-of-life care. I was able to meet with various Members of Congress, including Representative Thomas Massie from Kentucky, about a new bill referred to as the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (H.R.3119). Additionally, I had the opportunity to speak with many policy leaders of organizations across the United States, including the Director of Health Policy at the Center to Advance Palliative Care. I had never previously lobbied on the Hill before, so this event was a great learning experience for me. Moreover, I look forward to seeing how H.R.3119 progresses through Congress, and I am optimistic that it will be enacted into law.
In short, this summer opened my eyes to the wonderfully frustrating world of health policy. I have seen firsthand that there is much to be done in order to perfect the ways in which government impacts health care, particularly with regard to eliminating medical disparities among minorities and standardizing access to health care. However, there is no doubt in my mind that improvements in this field are being made daily. On a personal level, I have developed a new passion for health policy that I fully intend on cultivating throughout college and in my professional life!
— Ben Schwartz