MLS Equips Student to Adapt to Health Care Policy Changes

MLS student Miriam Matthew
MLS student Miriam Matthew

It’s an exciting time for Miriam Matthew. Just as health care policy in America is in tremendous flux, Matthew is pursuing a Master of Science in Legal Studies (MLS) degree focusing on health care law at Loyola Law School. And Loyola is the place to do it, she says.

“It’s exceeding my expectations,” Matthew said. “My professors are going through all the ins and outs of every single aspect of health care. It’s a fascinating topic.”

A recent graduate of the University of California, Riverside, the Los Angeles native intends to become a dentist after she completes her MLS degree. Her ultimate goal, however, is to have an impact on health care policy.

Matthew’s interest in policy was piqued in college, when she interned at a low-income dental clinic. She found the complexities of insurance and aid programs confusing. Torn between pursuing dental school or law school, she was thrilled when she learned about Loyola’s MLS program. “As soon as I saw the program, I thought, ‘Wow! I can still go to law school without being an attorney. I get to do both things that I want.’”

Several of Matthew’s professors are specialists who actively practice in the health care policy field, such as adjunct professor Robin McCaffrey, an associate legal counsel at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. McCaffrey teaches Matthew’s most challenging class this semester, Health Care Organizations: Business Planning and Regulatory Compliance.

“She gives us a lot of group exercises, where we talk about the pros and cons of regulations,” Matthew said. Other exercises have included drafting legislation about specific health care issues.

Another top practitioner in the field teaches Matthew’s class on Health Insurance Regulation: Law, Policy & Politics. Adjunct professor Gerald S. Flanagan is a 20-year veteran of public interest and health care policy litigation and legislative activities who now serves as litigation director of the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog.

Flanagan often draws topics for his class directly from the policies and proposals under discussion in Washington. “We stay in synch with everything that’s going on in Congress, including all the changes and replacements that are being debated,” Matthew said.

Loyola’s administrators are also a major asset for Matthew. Dean Brietta R. Clark is a recognized expert in health care law and inequality. Her connections cultivated from launching Loyola's Health Law Alumni Chapter and Health Care Law Course of Study provide students with unique entrée into the field.

“Loyola is an amazing school,” Matthew said. “It provides many great mentors. Everyone is so understanding and accommodating.”