On June 25, 2020, the Petris Center released a study titled, “What are the Health Care Costs of COVID-19 in California?: State and County Estimates” by Richard M. Scheffler, Daniel R. Arnold, Brent D. Fulton, Alexandra Peltz, Taylor L. Wang, and John Swartzberg. The report estimates the cost of COVID-19 for a 5% prevalence in the state at $2.4 billion. The authors assessed county level costs and adjusted for hospitalization rates by age group, payor mix (Commercial, Medicare, Medi-Cal, uninsured), and a county hospital cost index. The report also includes cost estimates for 15%, 30%, and 60% prevalence of the disease in the appendix.
On January 27, the first Healthy California for All Commission meeting took place. Professor Scheffler attended the meeting in Sacramento. To view the agenda and a recording of the meeting, click here.
On December 18, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom named Richard Scheffler to the newly created Healthy California for All Commission. The Commission includes 26 members, comprising 13 voting members, eight gubernatorial appointees, four legislative appointees, and five ex-officio, non-voting members. The goal is to develop a plan that would guide the state toward a unified health care system, with broad coverage and access through a single or coordinated financing system, but not limited to a single payer financing system.
To read more from the Governor’s Office, click here.
To read about it from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, click here.
On Thursday, November 18, Professor Scheffler partook in a debate at the UC Berkeley campus centered on Medicare-for-All. The event was hosted by the Berkeley Conservative Society and the campus Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement. Scheffler and Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, took opposing sides, with Scheffler supporting the proposal and Pipes arguing against it. Scheffler reasoned that the high cost of healthcare in its current state, including the $38 billion price tag of private insurance last year and excess costs due to the inefficiencies created by the disjointed system, would be reduced through a unified, national healthcare system.
The American Medical Association (AMA) addressed the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the Aetna-CVS merger, using research from Professor Scheffler and the Petris Center:
This merger is popularly described as vertical when, in fact, horizontal concerns are also substantial. Aetna and CVS compete in the Stand-Alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) market that covers 25 million people nationally. Whether this merger of rivals in the PDP market runs an appreciable risk of substantially lessening competition is easily determined by a straightforward application of the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 2010 Horizontal Merger Guidelines (Merger Guidelines). University of California, Berkeley, health economics professor Richard Scheffler, PhD, has done that analysis. He finds that under the Merger Guidelines, in all but four of the 34 PDP regional markets, this merger would either be “presumed to be likely to enhance market power” or would “potentially raise significant competitive concerns and often warrant scrutiny.” Professor Scheffler concludes that this merger would raise PDP premiums in markets across the country, including California.
Professor Scheffler spoke about a recent study finding an increase in anxiety disorder among college students. He presented these findings as part of “A Generation Under Pressure: Talking Mental Health at UC Berkeley,” an event hosted by the Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans as part of the Goldman School of Public Policy on April 18th.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus Richard Scheffler gave a presentation during the “Strategic Outlook on the Health Care Market” session as part of the UCI Health Care Forecast Conference on March 11, 2019. Scheffler focused on healthcare consolidation, mainly centered on current trends in hospital consolidation and the impact on prices in California. HHI (a measure of consolidation) and hospital prices demonstrate a positive correlation among California counties. Scheffler also touches on “large” vertical mergers including CVS-Aetna and Cigna-Express Scripts.
Health Affairs published a blog post on February 8th describing the a new paper by the Petris Center. The paper “proposes an alternative path to move California towards universal coverage using a two-pronged approach: controlling high health care costs and employing novel sources of financing for universal coverage. This plan would provide health coverage to 3.55 million uninsured Californians, including low-income and undocumented persons, as well as those who receive only partial Medicaid benefits in line with the definition of insured used by the Congressional Budget Office. The key element of this approach is the use of risk-based capitated care delivery models.”
Over the past year, the Petris Center has been conducting a study in collaboration with the Berkeley Center for the Future of Young Americans (BIFYA) on the alarming rise of anxiety in Millennials. The project has recently released its first policy brief, “The Anxious Generation: Causes and Consequences of Anxiety Disorder Among Young Americans.” The brief documents the study’s preliminary findings on the spike of anxiety among college students and young Americans. Today, anxiety disorder is the top presenting concern at college counseling centers, and rates are not only increasing, but also growing at a rate faster than depression and all mental health disorders combined.
Existing research points to several possible factors contributing to this rise in anxiety, including financial stress, technology, social media, and sociopolitical factors. The next phase of the study, led by Petris Center Director Dr. Richard Scheffler, will delve into each of these determinants, and explore whether certain cohorts are more at risk, measure the economic cost of rising anxiety, and propose policy solutions.