Class of 2004
Senior Director, State Affairs at Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA)
Area of Practice: Capital Lawyering
When she attended Chico State as an undergrad, April Alexander, '04, worked in a pathology lab that served Medi-Cal and Medicare patients.
When the health programs denied payment, Alexander would decide whether the service should be covered after looking at Medi-Cal and Medicare rules for payment. If she felt the service was a covered benefit, she would call the programs' administrators and wrangle with them to pay for it. While she's always been interested in politics, the job helped spark a love for health care policy.
"I realized at that time that the government makes a lot of decisions that impact every one of us in health care, and a lot of people don't realize that," says Alexander, a registered lobbyist and director of state affairs for Molina Healthcare in Sacramento. "I thought it was an interesting policy area."
The claim denials got Alexander thinking about how health care policy is formed. Most of the lab's patients would go in for an annual checkup and did not know their tests would go to a lab for review. Sometimes, Medi-Cal or Medicare would pick a subset of services and pay for those. At work, Alexander would think about how someone in federal or state government made the rule deciding what medical services government would cover.
"I was always interested in the debate before making that rule," she says. "What kind of information does a member of Congress have about specific medical services that people need? Is that congressperson making a good decision? Is it well informed? What influences it? Is it money changing hands? What motivates that congressperson to make that decision about covered benefits?"
Alexander joined Molina in 2008. Molina is a multistate Medicaid managed care organization. It contracts with state governments to help manage their Medicaid programs and also runs about two dozen primary-care clinics. Alexander manages the legislative affairs for California, Washington, Utah and Florida. Her job is split between political affairs and policy - developing relationships with politicians, political candidates, health care stakeholders and others, and working on impacting laws that support health care programs for low-income populations.
"I find it rewarding to take something people aren't interested in and to turn it into something they are," she says. "The best example of that is the federal health reform policy enacted in 2010. The last three years have been about explaining that to state policymakers and making sure people understand what it really does instead of what they've heard on the news, which may be incorrect."
After graduating from McGeorge School of Law, where she completed the government affairs certificate, Alexander became staff counsel for the state Department of Managed Health Care. In 2007, she joined the California Association of Health Plans, the trade association for the state's HMOs. Alexander was the director of legal and regulatory affairs and represented HMOs to regulatory agencies on Medi-Cal issues. She always has been drawn to working on behalf of the underserved. "I do like the fact that at the end of the day when I'm advocating for funding in the state budget for Medicaid programs, it ultimately will help low-income populations," she says. "That makes me happy."