MATT CHILDERS 

Matt is a political scientist using data to improve access to quality affordable health care for Florida's low-income residents.


 

“Going back to my first quarter in grad school, in research design, run by some foremost political science thinkers -  

To be told ‘it depends on the problem you’re trying to solve, there are lots of fancy tools we could use for anything - to be honest, keep it simple, stupid.’ If it’s a simple linear regression that gets you 90% of the way there that tells the story, why do you need to do anything else? That stuck with me.”
I spoke with Matt for about three hours and would have been happy to make it three more.  He’s one of those people whose life experience seems to defy a reasonable sense of place and time.  Some time working for a long-shot Senate candidate named Barack Obama (he has no money and won’t make it out of the primary, just enjoy it until you find something else, he was told), an energy analyst entering the market right as Enron imploded, a Ph.D. in Political Science waltzing into the great recession, and now working to improve health care access and outcomes for low income Floridians.  Trying to “make meaningful contributions and pay the bills“, he says.

That contribution sometimes manifests in media coverage of key policies and their local impact, like the conclusion that 107,000 kids in the State of Florida would lose health insurance as a result of changes to the “public charge” rule.  To do this work, he primarily uses data from US Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) and Current Population Survey (CPS).

“When I pull data together and use it, and it gets cited in Miami Herald, that’s cool. We put things together for advocates to use - if it weren’t for FHJP [Florida Health Justice Project] ... you’re not hearing about this. We’re getting bodies of government to do things that they wouldn’t have done based on what one might consider simple work.“

KISS, Keep it Simple, Stupid, was something I heard a lot growing up (it was one of my mother’s favorite sayings, in the upper echelon with obscure Irish jokes and suggestions to take the car to the grocery store instead of running, as it would be faster).  To hear this advice from a person with advanced skills has weight.  You trust the person telling you to ride a bicycle a little bit more if you know they’ve been on a Ducati.  This advice certainly aligned with my experience.  It might not always be the most satisfying choice, but in many situations, a little goes a long way.

WORK


Florida Health Justice Project;
Twitter

Florida Health Justice Stories

The Advocate’s Guide to the Florida Long-Term Care Medicaid Waiver


EDUCATION, TOOLS, DATA





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