Recent News

Dr. Scheffler and Other Economists Publish Letter on Aetna-Humana Merger: Erroneous Market Definition

Posted on 26 Jul 2016
Twenty economists with expertise in the subjects of antitrust, competition policy, and health economics, including Dr. Scheffler, submitted a public letter to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on July 8th. The letter addressed the economists’ concern that the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR)’s recent decision to approve the Aetna-Humana merger is based on an erroneous belief that Medicare Advantage (MA) is in the same relevant product market as traditional fee-for-service Medicare (TM). Based on the commercial realities of the market and on scientific evidence from economic research, the twenty economists believe that the MA is not in the same relevant market as TM and, therefore, that the merger will cause a serious increase in concentration that raises a competitive concern. You can read the full letter here.

California Department of Insurance Urges DOJ to Block Anthem/Cigna Merger

Posted on 21 Jun 2016
Announced on June 16th, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has urged the U.S. Department of Justice to block the merger deal between Anthem, Inc., and Cigna Corporation. After an extensive review of the Anthem and Cigna merger, including expert testimony from Dr. Scheffler and Dr. Fulton, Commissioner Jones issued detailed findings that the merger of the second and fourth largest national health insurers is anti-competitive and will harm California consumers, businesses, and the California health insurance market. This marks the first instance of an insurance regulator opposing the merger of Anthem and Cigna. Full details of the California Department of Insurance’s decision can be read here. The full letter from the California Department of Insurance to the DOJ, which cites the research done by Drs. Scheffler and Fulton, can be read here.

Dr. Scheffler awarded Astor Visiting Lectureship to deliver Lectures at Oxford University in June

Posted on 25 May 2016
Dr. Scheffler was awarded the Astor Visiting Lectureship by Oxford University to deliver two lectures and a seminar in June at Oxford, in conjunction with the Oxford Department of International Development and the International Migration Institute. The full details can be viewed below or accessed here.

KQED: Covered California Helps Keep Premiums in Check, UC Berkeley Study Finds

Posted on 06 May 2016
KQED’s State of Health covered the Petris Center’s newly published paper in health affairs, “Differing Impacts Of Market Concentration On Affordable Care Act Marketplace Premiums.” The article covers the responses of Dr. Scheffler and others, including Covered California Director Peter Lee, in response to the paper’s findings: “The folklore in economics is that more choice is better,” economist Scheffler said. If offered too many choices in health insurance, “it becomes too much for consumers to look at and analyze and really absorb. So you’re better off having a smaller number of choices to plan on and pick from.” The full article can be read on KQED’s website here. More information about the Health Affairs paper can be found here.

Just Released in Health Affairs: Differing Impacts Of Market Concentration On Affordable Care Act Marketplace Premiums

Posted on 06 May 2016
Dr. Scheffler, Dr. Fulton, and Graduate Researcher Daniel Arnold, along with Dr. Sherry Glied of New York University, have a newly published paper in Health Affairs this week. The paper, “Differing Impacts Of Market Concentration On Affordable Care Act Marketplace Premiums,”examines recent increases in market concentration among health plans, hospitals, and medical groups in order to see the impact of these mergers on consumer’s costs. Specifically, the impact of concentration on health insurance premiums was examined in two Affordable Care Act state-based marketplaces: Covered California and NY State of Health, both for 2014-2015. Ultimately, the paper finds that both states exhibited a positive association between hospital concentration and premium growth and a positive (but not statistically significant) association between medical group concentration and premium growth, but differed between the two states, with premium growth in New York yet negative premium growt

Dr. Scheffler’s Op-Ed on Front Page of New York Times Website: “States Can Contain Health Care Costs. Here’s How”

Posted on 02 May 2016
An op-ed by Petris Center Director Dr. Richard Scheffler and Dr. Sherry Glied, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, was featured on the front page of the New York Times website today (May 2nd, 2016). Entitled “States Can Contain Health Care Costs. Here’s How,” the op-ed discusses the increasing concentrated health insurance market in the wake of the Affordable Health Care Act, and the need for competition and regulation to work together to benefit consumers. The full article can be read on the New York Times website here.

Dr. Fulton Provides Testimony on Proposed Anthem Inc. – Cigna Corp. Merger

Posted on 05 Apr 2016
On March 29th, Dr. Fulton provided testimony to the California Department of Insurance on the proposed Anthem Inc. – Cigna Corp. merger, discussing the potential impact of a merger on the market, including on health insurance premiums. Dr. Fulton’s testimony was covered by California HealthLine, who wrote: Brent Fulton, a professor of health economics and policy at UC Berkeley, presented an analysis on the Anthem and Cigna merger at the request of the Department of Insurance. Theoretically, Fulton said, consolidation could lead to stronger negotiating leverage with hospitals, physician organizations and other providers of health care services that now hold market power, resulting in lower costs for health insurance customers. “However, we are not aware of any peer-reviewed studies that have found that higher insurer market concentration has led to lower health insurance premiums,” Fulton said. The full California HealthLine article can be read here. The full video of the he

Dr. Scheffler and Dr. Fulton Testify on the Potential Health Net-Centene Merger

Posted on 27 Feb 2016
In January, Dr. Scheffler and Dr. Fulton testified in Sacremento in front of the California Department of Insurance at the hearing on the proposed Health Net-Centene merger. Drs. Scheffler and Fulton discussed the potential impact of the merger on market competition. The full video of the testimony can be viewed here.

Petris Center Hosting Visiting Scholar Dr. Robert Berenson

Posted on 19 Feb 2016
The Petris Center is hosting visiting scholar Dr. Robert Berenson from the Urban Institute for several months in Spring 2016. Dr. Berenson has worked at the Urban Institute as a fellow since 2003, where he conducts research and provides policy analysis primarily on health care delivery issues, particularly related to Medicare payment policy, pricing power in commercial insurance markets, and new forms of health delivery based on reinvigorated primary care practices. In 2012, Berenson completed a three-year term on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the last two years as vice chair. From 1998 to 2000, he was in charge of Medicare payment policy and private health plan contracting in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Previously, he served as an assistant director of the White House Domestic Policy Staff under President Carter. Berenson is a board-certified internist who practiced for 20 years, the last 12 years in a Washington, DC, group practice. He is the coauthor