Recent News

Review of Industrial Organizations: Market Power, Transactions Costs, and the Entry of Accountable Care Organizations in Health Care

Posted on 03 Aug 2015
  An article by Petris Center Director Richard M. Scheffler and Christopher Whaley, H. E. Frech III, Benjamin R. Handel, Liora Bowers, and Carol J. Simon was published in the Review of Industrial Organizations journal on July 15, 2015. Abstract “ACOs were promoted in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to incentivize integrated care and cost control. Because they involve vertical and horizontal collaboration, ACOs also have the potential to harm competition. In this paper, we analyze ACO entry and formation patterns with the use of a unique, proprietary database that includes public (Medicare) and private ACOs. We estimate an empirical model that explains county-level ACO entry as a function of: physician, hospital, and insurance market structure; demographics; and other economic and regulatory factors. We find that physician concentration by organization has little effect. In contrast, physician concentration by geographic site—which is a new measure o

New Studies Assess Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) after the Passage of the Affordable Care Act

Posted on 03 Aug 2015
“‘Accessing Accountable Care Organizations: Cost, Quality, and Market Power,’ a special issue of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law (volume 40, issue 4), is an in-depth look at accountable care organizations (ACOs): networks of hospitals, physicians or other health care providers that share financial and medical responsibility for the coordinated care of a patient. Now numbering over 700 throughout the United States, ACOs were rare prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Their increased presence has sparked a debate about issues important to patients, providers, and taxpayers throughout the nation. ‘Integrated health delivery systems and accountable care organizations are becoming ubiquitous in our health care system,’ Richard Scheffler, special issue editor, states. ‘They potentially could bend the cost curve and improve the quality of care, but they also present a threat to the competitiveness of health care markets.'” Re

Dr. Scheffler awarded the Gold Medal of Charles University

Posted on 28 Jul 2015
Petris Center Director Dr. Richard Scheffler was awarded the Gold Medal of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic for his “extraordinary contribution to the international science and post-doctoral education in the field of health policy and health economics from 1990 till present”. This award was presented by the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University during our Fogarty International training conference May 30th, 2015. The full press release issued by Charles University can be found here.

Drivers of Health Expenditure Growth in California

Posted on 02 Apr 2015
California’s state government, employers and families are concerned about the affordability of healthcare in California. The Affordable Care Act is likely to have opposing effects on healthcare expenditures. On the one hand, the number uninsured in California is expected to decrease from 6.0 million to 2.6 million between 2011 and 2016, leading to increased expenditures (CalSIM, 2014; Hadley et al., 2008). On the other hand, payment and delivery innovations within the Affordable Care Act and private market have the potential to reduce expenditures (McClellan, 2014), but there is a concern that provider consolidation may lead to higher prices (Health Care Cost Institute, 2014; Baker et al, 2014; Robinson, 2011; Berenson et al., 2010). In this report, we forecast health expenditures in California from 2013–2022 using the Berkeley Forum Healthcare Expenditure Forecasting Model discussed in A New Vision for California’s Healthcare System: Integrated Care with Aligned Financial Incentives (

Accountable Care Organizations in California: Promise & Performance

Posted on 17 Feb 2015
There is new evidence that California’s accountable care organizations (ACOs) are growing in size and number, serving more patients, and improving the quality of care—according to a report released today by the Berkeley Forum for Improving California’s Healthcare Delivery System. California has more ACOs (67) than any other state in the country, with particularly rapid growth over the past two years. The report estimates that, by February 2016, more than 1.3 million Californians will be receiving their care from ACOs. The growth is projected to occur in nearly all regions of the state. “The next few years are likely to bring continued growth and diversity in accountable care models that move increasingly toward being paid for meeting cost and quality targets,” said Stephen Shortell, lead author of the report and chair of the Berkeley Forum. ACOs are defined as medical groups that contract with Medicare and/or commercial insurers to care for a defined population of patients and that are

Healthcare Leaders and Berkeley Policy Experts Issue Report on Honoring Patients’ Wishes by Expanding Palliative Care in California.

Posted on 19 Nov 2014
A report released November 19 by the Berkeley Forum finds that California hospital spending could be reduced by billions of dollars over the next eight years if patients’ wishes about palliative care were honored. The Forum—a collaborative effort involving executive leadership of major health insurers, health care delivery systems and the State of California with health policy experts from the School of Public Health at UC-Berkeley—previously issued a Vision of increased choice and better value for patients nearing end of life. The new report builds on that Vision, highlighting three major programs that give patients in California greater choice of care outside the hospital. The programs’ interdisciplinary teams incorporate patient goals and wishes when planning treatment, resulting in patient-centered care that tends to move people out of intensive hospital settings and into care in the community. “Our review shows that offering more choices to patients can not only increase sat

California Journal of Politics and Policy: Berkeley Healthcare Forum Report Publication

Posted on 09 Oct 2014
In a typical day, Californians spend over $850 million on healthcare. In a typical year, 53% of the state’s healthcare expenditures are spent by just 5% of the population. More alarming is the fact that by 2022, total employer-based insurance premiums for a family are projected to consume almost a third of median household income. Similarly, the share of the Gross State Product consumed by healthcare continues to grow; it is projected to rise from 15.4% in 2012 to nearly 17.1% in 2022, reducing our ability to invest in other crucial areas. We also face a continuing obesity epidemic that results in growing rates of chronic diseases skewed to the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder. Additionally, the state’s healthcare system will be stressed even further due to several million additional Californians gaining insurance coverage via the Affordable Care Act. These are just some of the reasons it is critical that we address the financial sustainability of the state’s healthcare system wit

Professor Scheffler’s Letter Featured on

Posted on 30 Apr 2013
To the Editor: Do healthy people go to church, or does church make you healthy? If the answer is that church makes you healthy, what is the mechanism? Leaving out divine intervention, what happens in church that produces health? Economists and other social scientists have examined the relationship between health and social capital, which includes church, social clubs and having a support network of friends. Social capital provides information on health habits, better doctors or hospitals, and reduces stress, which can lead to heart disease and mental problems. But we must confront the problem of causation. Those who attend church are on average healthier than those who do not: the selection effect. To deal with this, we would need to study the health of those who are randomly assigned to attend church and who do not attend. Without this evidence, we can only hope that going to church makes us healthier, though it might be a good thing anyway. RICHARD SCHEFFLER Madrid, April 22, 2013 Th

New book released!

Posted on 19 Apr 2013
We are happy to announce “The Labor Market for Health Care Workers in Africa” is now available online. Head over to our resources to view the book. Visit this link for more information regarding ordering a physical copy.