student Spotlight

April Student Spotlight with Luis Rivera (Executive MPA '14)

April Student Spotlight

No matter how far you are into your career, there’s always something more to learn. Associate Managing Director at Harlem United AIDS Center, Luis Rivera has taken this to heart by furthering his education – and career – through the Executive MPA program. We discuss the Health Home and Food and Nutrition programs he dedicates himself to, and his experience as an Executive MPA student.

You have been acting as a leader in the Health Home Care Management program under the direction of the overarching Medicare Redesign program. What is the purpose of these programs and what are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced first-hand?
In my most recent position I am the Associate Managing Director for the Health Home/Food and Nutrition programs at Harlem United AIDS Center, supervising a team of 21 employees. The Health Home Care Management program is part of a broader initiative set by New York State as part of its Medicaid Redesign program. The mandate is to provide care coordination services to people living with chronic illness, while decreasing Medicaid expenditures through disease prevention and health maintenance. The Food and Nutrition program is a Ryan White funded program aimed at increasing access to healthy food and nutritional education to people living with HIV.

The most challenging aspect of this program in its initial application was just the extensive amount of change on all levels it presented to our agency. We had to rethink and recreate all of our system/processes. This included program implementation, data collection, staffing ratio, and fiscal budgeting to successfully adopt this new service model.

Some early challenges were having to expand case management services from people living with HIV to include people with other chronic illnesses, and fundamental changes on program eligibility and service provision. Because Health Home/Medicaid Redesign transformed our program emphasis and created training needs for all stakeholders involved with the program, we had to reeducate program staff, internal/external stakeholders, the finance department, and most of all our clients on how they would now access the program.

Program management began providing educational tours to all of our internal stakeholders within the agency to discuss these modifications. We also realized we would have to increase our client capacity in order for the program to be fiscally viable. Our program member roster went from a total of 400 to 900; this was a 125% increase. This required that program management work closely with finance to develop budgets and goals that were specific, measurable, and achievable. We also had to bring in our evaluators to monitor the program and recommend efficient planning strategies to be in compliance with Health Home and Medicaid Redesign regulation and fiscal success.

In the end it required a lot of dedicated time and collaborative effort between program management, evaluation, and finance to address challenges that came up as a result of this epic reform to New York State’s Medicaid program.

What projects have you engaged in as an Executive MPA student? How has this directly impacted how you approach the duties of your current position?
Currently through my capstone project for the Executive Master’s in Public Administration program, I am Exploring New York State’s Medicaid Redesign Policy, and its influence on AIDS Service Organizations, and the impact to their mission, fiscal sustainability, and agency structure. This capstone project is closely aligned to the work I have done over the course of my professional development. I have dedicated most of my career to combating the socioeconomic factors and stigma faced by people living with HIV. In addition, AIDS Service Organizations have been central in my success as a professional, therefore I have a compelling interest in their role and continued success in the community.

I think it may be fair to say that my current position and firsthand experience from overseeing a program born out of New York State’s Medicaid Redesign initiative is the motivating factor in my capstone project. However courses I have taken at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs have been vital in taking my management and analytical skills to the next level in addition to developing my capstone project. In my current position I have implemented many of the public administration skills and concepts we have discussed in class. I have gained a better understanding of research and evaluation techniques we apply in Harlem United’s Evaluation Department as a result of classes offered by Baruch. My management skills have been enhanced over the course of this program and continue to evolve, as I learn from my Executive MPA cohort 30 and Baruch academic staff. Furthermore, I have become a more adept and insightful manager with a stronger understanding of the role both external and internal stakeholders play in the success of my program.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
In the future I aspire to enhance the field of public administration, and emerge as a leader within public policy on Healthcare and poverty within the tri-state area. Furthermore, I plan to pursue my passion for health education by becoming an adjunct professor in Public Health/Administration academia, and shape upcoming generations of leaders within public service.