1NASPAA (Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration) has earned a 2015 ASAE Power of A Silver Award for its Inaugural Student Simulation Competition, an effort to creatively and collectively create a balanced approach to reduce the per-person average health care cost; make the population healthier; improve the content and quality of care; improve health equity; and improve worker productivity.

The program is a one-day simulation exercise, where students worked with teammates to solve the healthcare challenge facing the United States. Students worked with a simulation model called Rethink Health, and through communication, compromise, critical thinking and analysis, made recommendations on next steps in healthcare reform.

“Congratulations to NASPAA for helping make the world a better place,” said Hugh “Mac” Cannon, MPA, CAE, Executive Director of ACEC of Metropolitan Washington, and chair of the Power of A Awards Judging Committee. “Their story exemplifies how associations make a difference every day – not just to the industry or profession they represent, but to society at large.”

During the competition, 45 teams (164 students) explored more than 4,400 different health care scenarios. Each scenario compared the team’s policy to a business as usual approach that predicted what would happen if no changes were made to the current health care system. The approach of the national winning team, if their strategy were scaled and implemented across the country, would save the U.S. $640 billion annually in 2040. The cumulative savings would be approximately $8.6 trillion between 2015 and 2040. In addition, the team’s solution yielded $743 billion in increased economic productivity in 2040 due to fewer used sick days. All of this occurred while the population became healthier: death rates dropped by 20.2%, emergency room visits dropped by 22.1% and high risk behaviors such as obesity, smoking and drug abuse dropped by 50% at the end of the simulation in 2040.

“NASPAA accomplished three main goals through our competition,” said Laurel McFarland of NASPAA.  “We emphasized the usefulness and transformative potential of a graduate degree in public service, increased student learning and engagement, and showcased student excellence by highlighting their critical thinking, leadership, and collaborative decision making skills.”

ASAE’s Power of A (association) Awards, the industry’s highest honor, recognize the association community’s valuable contributions on the local, national and global level.  The Power of A Awards reward outstanding accomplishments of associations and industry professionals for their efforts to enrich lives, create a competitive workforce, prepare society for the future, drive innovation and make a better world.