Reconnecting health care policy with economics: Finding and fixing distortive incentives

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Event Summary

On Thursday, AEI welcomed Charles Phelps, provost emeritus at the University of Rochester, to discuss his new book, “The Economics of US Health Care Policy” (Routledge, 2017).

AEI’s Thomas P. Miller began by surveying the nature of health policymaking in Washington, noting that economics often takes a back seat to path-dependent policy additions. Dr. Phelps then provided a survey of the book’s contents, focusing on the book’s three major parts: the private insurance market, Medicare and Medicaid, and issues facing the entire health system. After his remarks, Mark Hall from Wake Forest University provided comments, stressing that the book not only describes how health policy deviates from economic theory and practice but also provides substantive prescriptions for improvements.

–Clayton Hale

Event Description

In his new book “The Economics of US Health Care Policy” (Routledge, 2017), Charles Phelps locks in on the many ways that public policy has distorted the behavior of consumers and providers throughout our health care system for more than half a century. He then targets the most important ones for removal and remedy. His proposals include eliminating the favored tax treatment for employer-paid health insurance premiums, improving the operations of health insurance exchanges, and leveling the playing field for competitive alternatives to Medicare fee for service coverage.

The bottom line remains that we still have to fix our health care system, before we go broke. Join AEI and several other world-class health policy scholars as we examine the unfinished to-do list of repair and reconstruction work ahead.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.



9:45 AM

10:00 AM
Thomas P. Miller, AEI

10:10 AM
Charles Phelps, University of Rochester

10:45 AM
Panel discussion

Mark Hall, Wake Forest University
Mark Pauly, University of Pennsylvania

Thomas P. Miller, AEI

11:20 AM

12:00 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Clayton Hale at [email protected], 202.862.5920.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Mark Hall is the director of the Health Law and Policy Program and the Fred D. & Elizabeth L. Turnage Professor of Law at Wake Forest University. He is one of the nation’s leading scholars in health care law, public policy, and bioethics. The author or editor of 20 books, including “Health Care Law and Ethics” (Aspen, 2003) and “Making Medical Spending Decisions: The Law, Ethics, and Economics of Rationing Mechanisms” (Oxford University Press, 1997), he is currently engaged in research in heath care reform, access to care by the uninsured, and insurance regulation. Mr. Hall has published scholarship in the law reviews at the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Chicago; Duke University; the University of Michigan; the University of Pennsylvania; and Stanford University. His articles have been reprinted in a dozen casebooks and anthologies. He also teaches in Wake Forest’s graduate programs for bioethics and its M.B.A. program, and he is on the research faculty at the medical school. He regularly consults with government officials, foundations, and think tanks about health care public policy issues.

Thomas P. Miller is a resident fellow at AEI, where he studies health care policy, including health insurance and market-based alternatives to the Affordable Care Act. A former senior health economist for the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) in Congress, Mr. Miller was previously a trial attorney, journalist, and sports broadcaster. He is the coauthor of the bestseller “Why ObamaCare Is Wrong for America” (HarperCollins, 2011), the first in-depth examination of the impact of the new health care law. While at the JEC, he organized a number of hearings that focused on reforms in private health care markets, such as information transparency and consumer-driven health care. He has testified before Congress on issues such as the uninsured, health care costs, Medicare prescription drug benefits, health insurance tax credits, genetic information, Social Security, and federal reinsurance of catastrophic events. Mr. Miller has a B.A. in political science from New York University and a J.D. from Duke University School of Law.

Mark V. Pauly is the Bendheim Professor in the department of health care management, professor of health care management, and professor of business economics and public policy at the Wharton School and a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree from the University of Delaware, and a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University. Mr. Pauly is coeditor in chief of the International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics and associate editor of the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

Charles E. Phelps came to the University of Rochester in 1984 as a professor and director of the Public Policy Analysis Program. In 1989 he became chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine and Dentistry. He became provost in July 1, 1994, and served until July 31, 2007. As provost, he was responsible for overseeing the university’s academic activity, including teaching, research, and supporting services (e.g., libraries, information technology, and technology transfer). He currently holds the titles of university professor and provost emeritus. Dr. Phelps earned his baccalaureate degree from Pomona College. He then earned both an M.B.A. in hospital administration and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. Before coming to Rochester, he worked at the Rand Corporation from 1971 through 1984. Dr. Phelps served from 1998 to 2006 on the board of trustees for the Council on Library and Information Resources, the last two years as chair. He currently serves on the board of trustees of the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago and the board of directors of VirtualScopics Inc., a diagnostic imaging technology company. He also serves as an adviser to CVT, a pharmaceutical company. Dr. Phelps has now retired to Mendocino County in Northern California, where he writes and consults regularly.

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