Putting Policy to Program Progress

Graduate Adrian Naidu is improving access to healthcare one patient at a time

Like so many students interested in this degree, Adrian Naidu’s career goal is to be part of the movement that is improving our healthcare system. Whether that’s working as a Covered California Certified Enrollment Counselor or at his current position as an analyst on the Public Hospital Redesign and Incentives in Medi-Cal (PRIME) program for the Department of Health Care Services in Sacramento, Calif., Adrian’s focus is on creating opportunities for patients to get access to high-quality care.

Of his current role, Adrian explains that this quality-improvement program is authorized under California’s Section 1115 waiver, called Medi-Cal 2020, and comprises projects that address many aspects of care, “some of which are alcohol and drug misuse, cancer and depression screenings, disparity reductions, readmission rates, palliative care, pain management and maternal health,” Adrian adds. He breaks down his day-to-day responsibilities as:

  • Reviewing hospital reports
  • Answering hospital questions
  • Contributing to programmatic policies and decisions
  • Organizing learning collaboratives for hospitals to learn improvement methods
  • Calculating financial incentive amounts for hospitals
  • Working on the reporting system

All in all, Adrian mingles policy, finance and quality improvement in all that he does.

Guiding his work? The health policies and skills learned in the HPL degree.


I wanted something practical that would help me problem solve and make a difference for the better.


Why did you choose this degree?
I wanted a program that focused specifically on health policy.

I got into public health to help people before they got sick so that they wouldn’t have to go through pain, suffering and the financial considerations to get care. I had Medi-Cal when I was growing up, but I saw how hard it was to have access to quality care. I saw lots of people being turned away because of issues with their insurance eligibility.

I also heard a lot of stories from people who were able to get health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, and some of those people hadn’t been able to see a doctor in years. None of these cases seemed right to me: If you can’t get past the waiting room to see the doctor, then you’re already at a disadvantage.

When I was an enrollment counselor, I enrolled people into the plan that they qualified for and ultimately chose, but their appreciation was something I never expected—they were overjoyed! This access to healthcare was something they wanted, but were not able to have until the ACA.

It dawned on me that I wanted to work on improving access to high-quality care for everyone. The biggest impact needs to be made at a systematic policy level. That is what I wanted the HPL degree to help me work on. I wanted something practical that would help me problem solve and make a difference for the better.

What was your experience taking your courses online?
I don’t usually like online learning because it’s harder for me to listen to lectures online. The HPL online experience was completely different.

Lectures were practical and split in ways that made them easy to watch. My interactions with the professors and other students were great. People were very respectful and supportive in discussion posts—even when they disagreed. The faculty members were responsive and helpful.

Bonus: You don’t have to travel to class. If you work or do anything other than school, that is a huge time- and energy-saver.

What was your capstone project about and how did you come up with this idea?
My capstone project was about a state-run, prescription drug–purchasing system that could control the price of drugs in California.

Dr. King suggested modeling after state-run alcohol systems, and we just went from there. My capstone group really helped me refine the idea. I proposed that the state use this system—created from the combination of the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence model and California’s Proposition 61—to be the sole purchaser and distributor of drugs within the state. This would allow the state to have negotiating power for the 39.5 million Californians and it will be able to negotiate lower drug prices.

My capstone project was a concept paper designed to propose a framework for future discussion.


Working with multiple stakeholders to create policies is challenging, but something the HPL prepares you for.


How have you incorporated the HPL degree into your current work?
I work with my team and stakeholders to create policies for our quality-improvement program. Working with multiple stakeholders to create policies is challenging, but something the HPL prepares you for. Additionally, I use the transdisciplinary research skills and knowledge every day to inform my decisions or proposals. Understanding existing policies and laws—such as the ACA or anti-trust laws—and the rationale behind them helps me think about policies that we implement.


I’m really excited to put everything I’ve gained from HPL to use in improving the healthcare system.


You earned the master’s in 2017. What does earning this degree mean to you?
Of course, there is a sense of personal achievement and I’m happy that I was able to get this degree while working a full-time job and a second part-time job. My parents sacrificed a lot by moving from Fiji to the United States to give us a better life, and I think this degree and the difference I can make with it add to making that sacrifice worth it, as well.

Professionally, it means that I am eligible to apply for jobs that require a master’s degree and that opens up so many more opportunities. I’ve also learned a lot and I’m really excited to put everything I’ve gained from HPL to use in improving the healthcare system.

Where can we find you five years from now?
Life is so unexpected and opportunities arrive so suddenly. I see myself as a manager for a health program that either improves access or quality of care, either within DHCS or another state health agency. Wherever I end up, I plan to be moving access and quality improvement forward however I can.

Are you ready to gain the skills you need to shape health policy and law? Check out how to apply!