Health Policy & Legislative Affairs Committee
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Health Policy and Legislative Affairs

Welcome to the National Health Policy and Legislative Affairs (HPLA) Committee webpage!

Here, you will find a variety of resources ranging from official SNMA policy statements to our guide to student advocacy, the Mobilize and Activate Advocacy Manual, which you can find under the "Our Work" section. Our committee has a strong passion for advocacy efforts, so throughout the year you will also be able to read here about any advocacy initiatives we are working on and would love to have you get involved with!


Our committee is also tasked with the important goal of providing educational opportunities focused on health policy and structural competency. To that end, we organize various webinars hosted by strong leaders from other organizations regarding the issues we identify as “hot-topics” that the SNMA should be aware of.  Feel free to check that out in our “Announcements” section.


Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Hope to see you back soon!


In solidarity,

Eloho  Akpovi & Justin Anderson

HPLA Co-Chairs, 2019-2021




SNMA Official Statements


Today, May 18th, as the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) opens virtually due to Covid-19, student health advocacy organizations launched an interactive online advocacy tool that highlights key research universities and institutions receiving taxpayer funds to develop novel diagnostics, therapeutics, and/or vaccines for COVID-19. The tool, by visualizing where public funding is being directed, is designed to be used to hold research universities and institutions accountable to their responsibilities to the public.

Read the full regional press releases: UAEM Europe, UAEM North America and UAEM Australia.


May 5, 2020: SNMA & ANAMS Urge Actions Be Taken to Address Inequitable COVID-19 Outcomes Experienced by Communities of Color

We have partnered with the Association of Native American Medical Students (ANAMS) on a statement addressing inequitable COVID-19 outcomes, particularly Black, Latinx, and Native American communities.  Read the full press release:


March 16, 2020: SNMA Strongly Supports No Cost of COVID-19 Testing and Management

Washington, DC – The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is the largest and oldest student-led organization in the United States dedicated to supporting medical students of color and addressing the needs of marginalized communities. The recent outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus, a family of viruses that infect the respiratory tract and include the “common cold,” has created what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls a “controllable pandemic” – a global yet containable outbreak. As of Sunday, March 15, 2020, the WHO reports 153,517 laboratory-confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases worldwide, with a death rate of approximately 3.74% (5,735 deaths). Outside of China, where COVID-19 was first detected, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases is 72,469, with a death rate of approximately 3.49% (2,531 deaths).[1] Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 have minimized the extent of its spread, however, limited knowledge of the virus warrants proactive measures to ensure equitable access to medical care for marginalized and vulnerable patients in the United States. The SNMA urges federal and state legislators and health departments to immediately institute policies and protocols aimed at widespread and expeditious management in the form of prevention, testing, hospitalization, and rehabilitation at no cost to all patients that are or will be impacted by COVID-19, regardless of their insurance or documentation status.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older patients and patients with severe chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are most vulnerable to developing serious illness if infected by COVID-19.[2] Non-White racial and ethnic populations are known to be disproportionately impacted by these chronic conditions.[3] For patients without health insurance, the out-of-pocket cost for screening suspected cases of COVID-19 is, at minimum, $1,331 per person.[4] This value does not include the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing, isolation for suspected cases, loss of income during isolation, medically-necessary hospitalizations for presumptive cases, management of exacerbated comorbidities and complications from infection, or preventative vaccination if one becomes available. Since there are currently no uniform coverage requirements set by the US government, many health insurance payers and plans are opting to only voluntarily cover copays for COVID-19 testing and telemedicine appointments, but not treatment for those who test positive.[5] Low-income, uninsured, underinsured, and immigrant patients, populations which are also disproportionately non-White, are most vulnerable to the high out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing.[6] Fear of lost income during quarantine or the cost of testing and treatment, compounded with fear of repercussions as a result of immigration status, is deterring patients from seeking medical care despite experiencing symptoms suspicious of COVID-19 (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.). This is an additional source of anxiety and mental illness exacerbation for many. Thus, patients marginalized by race/ethnicity, income status, and/or immigration status will precipitously be burdened by the healthcare requirements and resulting financial consequences of the current COVID-19 pandemic if the US government and healthcare system does not take immediate action to protect them. The cost of this testing is further complicated by the fact that only 40% of Americans have the ability to pay an unexpected $1,000 expense such as an emergency room visit or car repairs from their savings.[7]


As future health professionals, we have a duty to advocate for equitable protection and care for our most vulnerable patients, particularly in this time of crisis. Each minute of delay in taking action is not worth the lives lost to this pandemic that could have been prevented. The SNMA firmly supports the following recommendations to counteract the impending burden that will disproportionately impact the populations we serve:

  • Full coverage for preventative services, testing, quarantine, treatment, recovery, and complications arising from COVID-19 or suspected infection regardless of documentation or health insurance status.
  • Increase funding for and expansion of Medicaid to help strengthen individual states’ capacities to respond to COVID-19.
  • Suspend the operation of the “public charge” rule for the duration of the crisis and ensure that no medical services utilized during the crisis apply to any reinstated rule.
  • Expedite review of proposed federal bills aimed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act introduced by Congresswoman Kim Schrier, MD (WA-08).


For more information on these recommendations and others, please see the March 12, 2020 Health Affairs publication titled, “Health Care Priorities For A COVID-19 Stimulus Bill: Recommendations To The Administration, Congress, And Other Federal, State And Local Leaders From Public Health, Medical, Policy And Legal Experts.”[8]



The Student National Medical Association (SNMA)



  1. World Health Organization (WHO). Coronavirus Disease (COVID-2019) Situation Report-53.; 2020. Accessed March 13, 2020.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19. Published 2020. Accessed March 13, 2020.
  3. Weinstein JN, Geller A, Negussie Y, Baciu A. Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity. National Academies Press; 2017. doi:10.17226/24624
  4. Kelly C. Rep. Katie Porter gets CDC chief to agree to pay for coronavirus testing - CNNPolitics. CNN. . Published 2020. Accessed March 13, 2020.
  5. America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). Health Insurance Providers Respond to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Accessed March 13, 2020.
  6. Artiga S, Orgera K, Pham O. Issue Brief: Disparities in Health and Health Care: Five Key Questions and Answers.; 2020. Accessed March 13, 2020.
  7. Garcia, A. Survey: Most Americans Wouldn't Cover A $1K Emergency With Savings.; 2019. Accessed March 14, 2020.
  8. Forman H, Fowler E, Ranney M, et al. Health Care Priorities For A COVID-19 Stimulus Bill: Recommendations To The Administration, Congress, And Other Federal, State And Local Leaders From Public Health, Medical, Policy And Legal Experts. Health Affairs. doi:10.1377/hblog20200312.363618.
February 23, 2020: Joint Statement by APAMSA, SNMA, and AMSA on U.S. Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

On January 30, the U.S. State Department updated the travel advisory for China to “Level 4: Do Not Travel due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.” Following this advisory, President Trump declared the coronavirus a public health emergency in the United States and signed a proclamation suspending entry of non-U.S. citizens who have traveled to China in the 14 days preceding their attempted entry, except for immediate family of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. 


The President also mandated quarantine and medical screening of U.S. citizens upon their return to the U.S. Those who have been in China’s Hubei Province in the 14 days preceding their return will be subject to 14 days of mandatory quarantine. Those who have been to other areas of mainland China in the 14 days preceding their return will be subject to screening at the airport of entry and to heightened monitoring for 14 days.

Although a national response to this outbreak is certainly warranted, we are concerned that policies restricting international travel and collaboration may further escalate tensions by fomenting xenophobia out of proportion to the domestic threat of the outbreak. Through this approach, the U.S. is continuing a  decades-old tradition of public health policies that encourage the blanket portrayal of Asian immigrants as carriers of terrible diseases. The American Civil Liberties Union also warned that these drastic measures may impinge on civil liberties. Jay Stanley, a ACLU political analyst,  urges that “any detention of travelers and citizens must be scientifically justified and no more intrusive on civil liberties than absolutely necessary.” Plus, it is still unclear how much benefit would be gained from these restrictions and quarantines in addition to promoting basic hygiene practices alone.

In recent weeks there has been an increase in media reports  of aggression against APIA (Asian Pacific Islander American) community members, particularly those of Chinese descent. These incidents have occasionally become violent, as in the cases of a  man who assaulted a Chinese woman in a New York City subway , and an Asian American teen who was hospitalized  following an assault by fellow high school students accusing him of having coronavirus. Similarly, there has been a rise in microaggressive actions targeting APIA students on university campuses, including demeaning comments from faculty and peers about Chinese dining and cultural practices. And some news outlets  themselves have depicted the outbreak in ways that feed this paranoia, including using images of people wearing face masks without proper context and using blanket images of local Chinatowns in stories about the virus.

We are also alarmed that there is no longer a federal official in charge of coordinating our national response to global health crises and pandemics. The Trump administration  eliminated this office two years ago , leaving us with a patchwork of agencies struggling to mount an organized response to the coronavirus outbreak. We therefore call for immediate reinstatement of this position, as this would improve dissemination of information to local governments hoping to respond to cases that emerge. This would also strengthen our ability to collaborate closely with international health organizations and follow their recommendations as more data on the coronavirus becomes available through medical journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). 


Together we can quell this global outbreak through the work of many agencies collaborating to limit its spread while developing a vaccine or novel antivirals, not by closing borders in ways that feed fear and prejudice.


Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA)
Student National Medical Association (SNMA)
American Medical Student Association (AMSA)



Additional links:


November 8, 2019: SNMA President's Statement on the U.S. Senate Proposed Elimination of the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP)

Dear SNMA family and friends,

Our mission is simple. The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians. The Senate Appropriations Committee has drafted legislation that proposes funding cuts to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VII and Title VIII programming. These funding cuts directly jeopardize our mission, strip underserved communities of resources, and most importantly disrupt vital pipeline efforts necessary to develop needed minority health professionals.

The Student National Medical Association stands in strong opposition to any funding cuts that jeopardize HRSA Title VII and VIII health professions diversity and workforce development programs.

The Senate has proposed the elimination of Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), a federally funded program that has been around since 1972. This pipeline program focuses on developing underserved and minority students to enter various health fields such as nursing, medicine, dental medicine and other various allied health fields. Most importantly, this program seeks to increase proportionately the representation of minority and disadvantaged populations in these professions. HCOP focuses on three key milestones of education: high school completion; acceptance, retention and graduation from college; and acceptance, retention and completion of a health professions program. HCOP programs can be found all over the United States from HBCU institutions like Morehouse College to PWI institutions such as the University of Connecticut (UCONN), and my own Alma Mater, the University of California, Berkeley. To many students, these programs provide them with the only opportunity of exposure to the health profession field. Like many devastated students nationwide, I am a graduate of the HCOP program and can attest to the many benefits that the HCOP program offers. I know for a fact that without HCOP, I wouldn’t have had the professional development to create a half a million dollar chronic disease management program immediately after graduating from college, the preparation to apply to medical school, the support to pursue a master’s degree in public health and ultimately the mentorship that helped develop me into a student leader willing and competent to serve as your National President!

On November 21, 2019 funding for HCOP will run out and without Title VII and Title VIII these programs will end. You can learn more about the legislation and how it is moving through the legislature here .

Protect this funding. Denounce all funding cuts. Make your voice heard. Sign the AAMC petition . The proposed legislation cuts funding for a variety of health sector agencies and departments and most importantly threatens grants and scholarship programs directly focused on filling gaps in our healthcare workforce.

Omonivie H. Agboghidi

SNMA National President




Health Policy & Legislative Affairs Co-Chair

MD-ScM Candidate, Class of 2021

Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University


Health Policy & Legislative Affairs Co-Chair

MD Candidate, Class of 2021

Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine

Vice Chairperson 2020-2021: Corey Boggs, Ross University School of Medicine (
Policy Statements Director 2020-2021: Kayla Holston, Sidney Kimmel Medical College (

Fellowship Program Director 2020-2021: Leah Carter, Trinity School of Medicine  (




The HPLA is organized into three (3) national subcommittees ,  with each subcommittee charged with its own mission and tasks:



Responsible for committee budget and fundraising and administering the biannual Health Policy & Advocacy (HPA) chapter grant for support of local SNMA chapters' advocacy projects.

Chair 2020-2021 Ehab H. Elhag (



Responsible for developing health policy and advocacy programming for Regional Medical Conferences (RMEC), National Advocacy Forum (NAF), and Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC), including coordinating the annual health policy and advocacy poster forum.

Chair 2020-2021 Kimberly Adu-Gyamfi (

NAF Coordinator 2020-2021: Comfort Orebayo (



Responsible for actively engage the SNMA membership in advocacy and seek advocacy campaigns and opportunities (internships, electives, events, etc.) to educate SNMA membership about health policy, legislation, and other issues important to healthcare advocacy and the SNMA's mission.

Chair 2020-2021 Christina Amutah (




The goals of the HPLA include:

  • Spearheading all of the SNMA’s advocacy efforts;
  • Educating members about legislative and policy developments affecting medical education and healthcare;
  • Seeking opportunities to increase the SNMA's voice, brand, and influence in healthcare and education advocacy;
  • Identifying key legislation and court case sand decisions regarding medical education, healthcare reform, and minority and women's health; and
  • Providing opportunities for medical students to advocate at the local, regional, and/or national level.



Not sure about the policies on advocating on the behalf of the SNMA? Please check out our organization's advocacy guide, Mobilize and Activate Advocacy, which goes over limitations as a 501(c)3 organization and protocols for advocacy work and responses to current events! 

Mobilize & Activate Advocacy Manual.pdf




The SNMA is proud to join the #MedOuttheVote campaign with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA)Citizen Physicians, and other healthcare provider and student organizations. Our vote as healthcare providers and students is so important, so take the pledge at If you're interested in finding out how to coordinate a voter registration drive at your institution, send us an email at!



***The Spring 2020 Grant Application is now CLOSED!***

Please check back in September 2020 for the Fall 2020 application cycle.

Each semester, HPLA provides financial assistance to SNMA and MAPS chapters interested in developing policy and advocacy projects! There is one grant available each Fall and Spring. Chapter projects should align with the mission and goals of the SNMA and should ideally relate to one of the efforts coordinated by HPLA. For more information, email


Previous Awardees:

  • Spring 2020 : University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine SNMA Chapter’s Black Maternal Health Initiative
  • Fall 2019 : Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) at Temple University SNMA Chapter's Stress Management & Self-Care Leadership Academy
  • Fall 2018 : Ohio University (OU-HCOM) SNMA Chapter’s Science Discovery Club




***The 2020-2021 application cycle is now OPEN!***

Applications are due Sunday, May 31, 2020 11:59 PM EST


Letter of Support and Good Academic Standing

The SNMA HPLA Fellowship Program is designed to provide medical student participants with an interest in activism, advocacy, and health policy, exposure to health policy from the perspective of a non-profit organization. The program offers participants the opportunity to gain a more thorough understanding of a medical career in health policy and an introduction to current health policy, grassroots efforts, and critical health policy issues. It is the aim of this program to develop leaders in the SNMA that will influence the future of healthcare through advocacy and activism efforts that will systematically address the inequities faced by underserved communities. Questions about the Fellowship Program can be sent to


Current Fellows (2020-2021): To Be Announced


Past Fellows:

  • Corey Boggs, Ross University School of Medicine, 2019-2020
  • Leah Carter, Trinity School of Medicine, 2019-2020
  • Jasmine Douglas, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, 2019-2020
  • Edwige Dossou-Kitti, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, 2019-2020
  • Nuha Fariha, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, 2019-2020
  • Rachel Buckle, Emory University School of Medicine, 2018-2019
  • Kelley Butler, UC Irvine School of Medicine, 2018-2019
  • Fred Loor, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, 2018-2019




Members of the national HPLA committee develop policy statements on key public health issues related to the mission of the SNMA. Proposed policy statements are peer-reviewed and only become official SNMA policy after approval from the SNMA Board of Directors (BOD).   Our policy statements are used to represent the position of the SNMA on specific public health issues and highlight major health disparities in the country and globally:

HPLA Needs Y OU !

The national Health Policy & Legislative Affairs (HPLA) committee aims to uphold SNMA's mission to create culturally competent and socially conscious physicians that serve underrepresented minority communities. In order to accomplish this, it is important that we make official policy statements on topics in social medicine.  For this reason, we are enlisting the help of the SNMA membershipWe are looking for passionate individuals to draft official policy statements on public health topics such as obesity in minority communities, the negative health impact of poor education and many more.  If you have an idea for a statement we do not currently have or would like to edit a pre-existing one, please contact us at .




To be announced...