Alumni / Summer 2018

Alum Stuart Portman brings health care expertise to Senate post

Stuart Portman is Orrin Hatch’s resident expert and most trusted voice on the Affordable Care Act. Photo courtesy of Stuart Portman

When the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history needs help understanding health care, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), 84, turns to a fresh-faced kid from St. Louis who is young enough to be his grandson.

Stuart Portman (BA ’13), at just 27 years old, is the senator’s resident expert and most trusted voice on the hottest of hot-button issues: the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, among other things.

“I do as much learning as I can,” says Portman, who has worked in Hatch’s office for nearly three years. “I feel like I need to earn the title of being a Medicaid expert so people will believe what I have to say. It just means I have to work a little harder.”

Luckily, Portman knows exactly what it’s like to have a lot on his plate.

As an honors student pursuing a pre-med/political science double major, Portman served in Undergraduate Student Government, chaired the Diversity Summit and used a work-study opportunity to get hands-on experience in his field.

The broad skill set and experiences he acquired at DU, he says, have been instrumental to finding respect and that elusive bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.

“I wanted to go to a place that values a more holistic perspective on what it means to be an academic person,” he says. “Everyone brings something different to the table. You can’t succeed if everyone in the room has the same opinion as you.”

With that in mind, Portman has played a pivotal role behind the scenes, working across the aisle, crafting bills designed to improve long-term health care systems for the neediest. When Hatch retires, Portman plans to stick with health care policy, working at a local, state or national level.

“I think my passion [for health care policy] comes from these vulnerable people who are forgotten,” he says. “Someone has to be there to care.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *