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K-State Today

January 19, 2022

Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy awards Thomas P. Gould Prize

Submitted by Laura Perez

Jason Semprini

The Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy, a publication of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies, has awarded fourth annual Thomas P. Gould Prize for the best article published in the journal to Jason Semprini, a National Institute of Health fellow and doctoral student at the University of Iowa.

Semprini received his Master of Public Policy from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago in 2017.

Semprini's article, "Treating a Public Health Crisis for Rural Moms — A Comparative Analysis of Four Rural States Addressing Maternal Opioid Misuse with Medicaid Innovation Models," examines the variation in Medicaid policy for supporting rural mothers at risk of opioid misuse. The excessive barriers to high-quality care and integrated treatment demand rapid assessment of policy practices to address this public health crisis.

"The opioid epidemic has caused tremendous death and suffering for over 30 years," Semprini said. "This public health emergency warrants policies across the spectrum of prevention, treatment, and recovery. The best policies will integrate each component and target populations most vulnerable to the pandemic. As the federal government continues delegating authority and resources to states as an incentive for integrating pregnancy-related and opioid misuse treatment, my research gets a jump start on identifying best practices for treating a public health crisis for rural moms.”

Semprini expressed gratitude for the open access platform of the Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy, which removes barriers to knowledge and facilitates evidence-based policy dissemination. The awards panel described Semprini’s research as “timely” and “of critical importance for rural communities."

"The OJRRP strives to support policy advancements that benefit rural communities," said Mary Kohn, journal editor. "Researching best practices for delivering health services strongly supports this mission."

Semprini hopes that policymakers and practitioners will take heed.

"I believe this work will be interesting to both investigators and practitioners," Semprini said.  "States took different approaches to solving the same problem, so my hope is that fellow researchers can conduct analyses and determine if these differences are meaningful. Then, policymakers and health administrators can adopt and adapt these evidence-based strategies to improve integrated care in rural communities across the country."

Winners of the annual Gould Prize receive $500 and recognition for their work in the journal and the media. Founding editor Thomas Gould, a K-State journalism professor, died in 2016. His wife, Carol VanNahmen, supports the prize in his honor every year since his passing. Those interested in submitting work can find more information at newprairiepress.org/ojrrp, or may contact members of the editorial staff: Mary KohnTuan NguyenBradley Galka or Chanh Lam.