The Politics of Healthcare: Insights from Professor Judy Baker

Judith Baker

Because of its excellent reputation and the high caliber of its students, NYU Wagner’s Online Master of Health Administration program is able to attract some of the country’s top professionals to its faculty. One such faculty member is Professor Judy Baker, managing partner at Cura Advantage and former regional director for the Department of Health and Human Services, who teaches Advanced Topics in Health Policy. 

In addition to her work at NYU and Cura, Professor Baker is a well-regarded politician. A former Missouri state representative, she ran in 2020 for the Missouri State Senate, largely to help further a mission of healthcare equity and expand Medicaid, which has so far not been successful in Missouri. “We worked hard to bring the question of Medicaid expansion to the people in the form of a constitutional amendment by ballot. I knew it would likely pass and I ran for the Senate in the hopes of being ‘in the arena’ when the legislature would weigh in,” says Baker. “I wanted to help ensure that crafting of the budget and policy aligned with the will of the people. I also mused that it would be helpful to lend my level of healthcare expertise to shaping the next generation of healthcare policy in my state. Alas, I narrowly lost, primarily due to forces at the top of the ticket.”

During the debate for the State Senate seat, she mentioned her teaching work at NYU as a credential for her background in healthcare. “It was important to draw a strong comparison in what I could contribute as a new senator bringing extensive and thoughtful background to debate,” she says. “My teaching experience has helped policymakers at all levels and clients understand the rigor with which I approach reforming healthcare to address cost, quality, and access.” 

For her students in NYU Wagner’s Online MHA program, Baker teaches a course that addresses current and relevant issues in health policymaking. “We explore six topics, each in the light of a different frame and aspect of policymaking,” she says. “Because of my experience in healthcare in both the private and public sector and at both the state and federal arenas, I bring a sense of the healthcare system from many different and often competing perspectives. This range in points-of-view contributes to meaningful and full discussions during live sessions.” 

Though not all students intend to pursue policy in their careers, all will be affected by healthcare policy, and so it’s important to have a strong understanding of the area. Baker uses her real-world experience as both a politician and a healthcare consultant to bring case studies and theories to life, enabling students to put their knowledge to work right away.

Like others part of the Online MHA faculty, Baker brings her deep professional expertise in healthcare to the classroom—and finds that her teaching fulfills her as well. “I love teaching for NYU because it gives me a chance to interact with top notch, curious students who I know will be taking what they learn and return to apply it to practical settings where they can motivate change and improvements in their current settings,” she says. “I also appreciate the opportunity to assist students looking to ascend to their highest potential.”

“I believe very strongly that my foray into politics, after having been an executive in the private sector, has provided me observations from inside the sausage factory, views of the whole picture, and glimpses of what could and can be. My work as a consultant lends insights to how reforms are implemented and the state of innovations in numerous settings. I hope these experiences keep me current and relevant to students.”


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