University of Southern California: Schaeffer Health Economist Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Paul Ginsburg, senior fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and professor of practice at the USC Price School of Public Policy, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

One of the highest professional honors, appointment to the academy recognizes experts who have made major contributions to the advancement of medical science, healthcare and public health. He joins a class of 100 researchers elected to the academy in 2021.

“Since his early days at CBO [Congressional Budget Office] and MedPAC, Paul has gained a reputation as an objective healthcare economist with a masterful understanding of a rapidly growing industry beset with financing and delivery challenges,” says Leonard D. Schaeffer, Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair at USC. “As the founding president of the Center for Studying Health System Change and as the director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy, Paul continued to influence health policy. It is gratifying to see the National Academy of Medicine honor him not only for his contributions to better policy based on evidence but for a career dedicated to improving people’s lives.”

Among the reasons for his election, the academy recognized Ginsburg for his role in shaping health policy by leading three influential organizations during his career: the Physician Payment Review Commission (now MedPAC); the Center for Studying Health System Change; and the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.

“Ginsburg has served as one of the most influential health economists and policy analysts in Washington for decades,” says Dana Goldman, co-director of the Schaeffer Center and dean of the USC Price School of Public Policy. “His objective and rigorous analyses have fundamentally informed the evolution of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and our understanding of how healthcare markets function.”

Ginsburg’s focus on health policy began when he joined the Congressional Budget Office, building a staff of health policy analysts and assisting Congress extensively on the design of Medicare’s inpatient prospective payment system.

Over the course of his career, his research has centered on cost trends and drivers, consumer-driven healthcare, provider payment reform, price transparency, the future of employer-based health insurance and competition in healthcare. He received his PhD in economics from Harvard University.

Leading three influential organizations over three decades
As the inaugural executive director of the Physician Payment Review Commission, Ginsburg worked to slow the rate of Medicare costs to ensure the program remained affordable and fiscally solvent for beneficiaries and taxpayers. Under his direction, the commission developed the landmark Medicare physician payment reform enacted by Congress in 1989.

“The U.S. healthcare system has evolved considerably since these early days of my career, but the challenges remain remarkably similar—we are still working on finding solutions to high and rising costs while ensuring patients have access to the care they need,” Ginsburg says.

From 1995 through 2013, Ginsburg founded and served as president of the Center for Studying Health System Change. Widely lauded for its evidence-based objectivity and success in communicating findings to policymakers, industry, the media and fellow investigators, the organization focused on issues of health systems, financing and delivery of care, and the effects of these issues on communities and individuals.

For the past five years, Ginsburg has served as director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy and held the Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair in Health Policy Studies at Brookings. Under his leadership, the Schaeffer Initiative produced almost 250 reports and commentaries and 36 events. The rigorous and timely analyses led by his team informed policies on such vital issues as protecting patients from surprise medical billing, enhancing competition to save money for Medicare beneficiaries, and developing avenues to achieve universal coverage.

“I have been privileged to collaborate on a number of studies with Dr. Ginsburg and have learned a great deal from him about the policy process. This recognition by the academy is well deserved,” says Erin Trish, co-director of the Schaeffer Center and assistant professor at the USC School of Pharmacy.

A pivotal, respected figure in D.C. health policy
Ginsburg has testified before Congress and state legislatures on more than 30 occasions. Recent topics have spanned the hazards of insurer mergers, competition and consolidation in provider and insurer markets, rising healthcare costs and the need for price transparency.

In addition to his academic appointments, he currently serves as vice chair of MedPAC, the legislative agency that provides Congress with analysis and policy advice on Medicare.

“Serving on the commission and most recently as vice chair of MedPAC has been a bit of a homecoming for me,” Ginsburg says.

He is a founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, served two elected terms on the Board of AcademyHealth, served on CBO’s Panel of Health Advisors and serves on Health Affairs’ editorial board. In 2015, he was appointed to Health and Human Services’ National Advisory Council for Health Care Research and Quality. He has been named to Modern Healthcare’s “100 Most Influential Persons in Health Care” eight times.

About the National Academy of Medicine
Established originally as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine, and related policy and inspires positive actions across sectors. NAM works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. With their election, NAM members make a commitment to volunteer their service in National Academies activities.