Schaeffer Postdoc Receives Provost’s Research Grant

Erin Trish, a postdoctoral fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, was one of only seven recipients university-wide to be awarded the 2014 Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar Research Grant. The purpose of the grant program is to facilitate the independence of USC’s postdoctoral scholars and to help develop their research careers, providing key financial support. Trish received $25,000 to study how Medicare Advantage insurance programs determine reimbursement rates for hospitals and doctors providing care to their enrollees.

“Nearly 16 million Medicare beneficiaries in 2014 are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, whereby the federal government pays private insurers to assume the responsibility for financing and coordinating care,” Trish said. “However, unlike the traditional Medicare program where payment rates to providers are set federally and publicly known, very little is known about how these MA plans pay providers.”

Trish will use insurer data to evaluate how the rates negotiated by MA programs, such as those included in the Affordable Care Act, differ from traditional Medicare.

“This award is a great opportunity for me to be able to take advantage of the Schaeffer Center’s tremendous resources and mentoring strength to pursue a project on an interesting topic with timely policy relevance,” said Trish, who earned a Ph.D. in health policy and economics from Johns Hopkins University in 2013.

On June 23, Trish presented two papers exploring the impact of the Affordable Care Act on insurance premiums at the 5th Biennial Conference of the American Society of Health Economists, hosted by the Schaeffer Center — a collaboration between the USC Price School of Public Policy and the USC School of Pharmacy.

In addition to Trish, Maria Jose Prados – a postdoctoral research scholar at the Schaeffer Center – received the Postdoctoral Scholar Training and Travel Award to continue her research in macroeconomics and labor. The award is designed to enable postdocs to attend workshops and conferences, learn new techniques or perform research at off-site locations.