“Lawyers have an opportunity and an obligation to advocate for and lead policy change,” said J. Craig Wilson (J.D./M.P.A. ’05). He stresses the importance of lawyers to share their skills in critical thinking, problem solving and communication to develop and advance policy that will improve health outcomes.
In his role as health policy director for Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), Wilson oversees a team of policy analysts. They conduct research and develop materials that support data-driven decision making that can be used by policymakers. “We catalyze policy change by being first, right and credible,” he said. They also draft and review legislation and regulations.
While in private practice, Wilson represented the Arkansas Medical Society, the Arkansas State Dental Association and the Arkansas Assisted Living Association, which helped him understand the perspective of major players in the health care arena. “I am pretty fearless about rounding up private and public stakeholders – often with competing interests – into the same room to discuss ideas and address concerns.”
Wilson finds personal satisfaction in his work. “I spend every day exploring how to improve the health and well-being of Arkansas citizens, many of whom are challenged by the economic realities of living in rural, poverty-stricken areas,” he said. Wilson’s initiatives have focused on improving access to quality health care by eliminating financial, geographic, cultural and language barriers. Recent projects include developing policies and resources for the state’s unique premium assistance approach to Medicaid expansion and health care transparency initiatives.
Wilson also teaches a graduate course in health policy and politics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Public Health and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, championing the role of policy in improving health outcomes to future health professionals.