Mary Scheuermann, MPH/MSW ’11, Tackles Health Policy in D.C.

Alumni; Policy

As the Supreme Court prepares to rule in a major health-insurance case involving the Affordable Care Act, Mary Scheuermann is one of many in the nation’s capital who are feeling some tension.  “It’s an exciting, nail-biting time over here,” she says from her office at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), where she reviews the benefits offered by certain plans on the insurance exchanges that are at the heart of the case.

Scheuermann returned to her native Washington as a Presidential Management Fellow, a leadership-training program that followed her graduation from the Brown School.  While at Brown, her studies focused on community-based health systems; she completed practicums at Health Literacy of Missouri and the St. Louis Department of Public Health, where she looked at the prevention of chronic disease through better nutrition.

“I never thought I’d work in health insurance,” she said.  But after getting the fellowship she had to find her own job, and chose OPM for the unique role it plays in ensuring health care quality.  In addition to the plans on the exchanges, she works on the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, which provides health insurance to more than 8 million workers and which has served as a model for insurance exchanges. She works with about 100 insurers around the nation to measure the quality of health care and improve it.

As an analyst, she serves as a connector between operations and policy, a job for which, she says, the Brown School prepared her well. The breadth of her education in areas like statistics and budgeting gave her the background she needed to help bring the big picture into focus and translate sometimes arcane material for a variety of audiences.

“It’s challenging,” she said.  “The bar is constantly raised here, there’s a lot of room for growth in this position.”

She’s not sure what’s next in her career, but sees her policy experience as a big benefit for whatever lies ahead.