Research Conference: Health Care Politics at the Crossroad

Department of Political Science, University of Houston

Scholarly Strategy Network-Texas

October 26-27, 2017

Conference Theme

The election of Donald Trump along with the unexpected retention of a unified Republican Congress has upended scholarly expectations about the course of health care policy in the United States. At the crossroads between the Affordable Care Act and an uncertain health future, insights from national experts are more important now than ever. Yet while discussions on health care policy are everywhere, precious little attention has been paid to health care politics, at least by scholars. We bring together a small group of leading national experts on health care politics to present new research on several key issues, including health care inequality, political ideology, the political consequences of the Affordable Care Act, and the attempts to repeal it in the post-2016 environment at both the federal and state levels.


Boris Shor, University of Houston Department of Political Science

Ling Zhu, University of Houston Department of Political Science


Thursday, October 26, 6:00-8:30pm

Dinner Reception and Keynote Lecture

Location: UH Student Centers, Astrodome Room.


Keynote Speaker:

Eric M. Patashnik, Julis-Rabinowitz Professor of Public Policy & Professor of Political Science, Brown University

Presentation Title

“Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence-Based Medicine”

Friday, October 27, 8:00am-5:30pm


Location: C. T. Bauer College of Business Building , Conference Room 508

8:00-8:30am Welcome and Breakfast


8:30-9:45 am Session 1. Political Behavior and Health Reform

Kathryn McCabe (Rutgers University), “Unexpected Health Care Costs and Public Opinion on Health Reform.” (Kenicia Wright)

Jake Haselswerdt (University of Missouri), “How Does Losing Coverage Affect Voting? Evidence from the TennCare Disenrollment”. (Patrick Flavin)

10:00-11:15am Session 2. Policy Diffusion and Policy Feedback

Julianna Pacheco (Iowa University), “Attitudinal Policy Feedback and the Affordable Care Act.” (Scott Clifford)

Graeme Boushey (University of California Irvine), “Where there’s Smoke there’s Vapor? Policy Winnowing and the Diffusion of Electronic Cigarette Legislation in the American States.” (?)


11:30am-12:45pm Session 3. Latino Health and the Politics of Immigration

Gabriel Sanchez (University of New Mexico), “The implications of President trump’s Agenda on Latino Health.” (Jason Casellas)

Francisco Pedraza (University of California, Riverside), “How the politics of immigration is the politics of health in 21st century America.” (Jeronimo Cortina)

12:45-1:45pm Lunch Break

1:30-3:00pm Session 4. States and Health Care Reform

David Jones (Boston University), “Lavatories of Democracy? Health Reform in the Trump Era” (Justin Kirkland)

Laura Dague (Bush School, Texas A&M), “The Health and Economic Consequences of Medicaid Expansions” (Ling Zhu)

Ling Zhu and Jennifer Clark (University of Houston), “State Medicaid Expansion, Policy Feedback and Attitudes toward the ACA: Rethinking the Policy-Opinion Nexus.”

3:15-4:45pm Session 5. Ideology and Measurement

Adam Bonica (Stanford University), “The Sorted Profession: How Political Ideology Shapes the Career and Advocacy of Physicians.” (?)

Phil Rocco (Marquette University), “Quiet Politics and the Power of Numbers: Quality Measurement in the ACA.” (Patrick Flavin)

Boris Shor (University of Houston), “Ideology, Party, and Opinion in explaining Roll Call Votes on Health Policy Reforms.”

Scholar Biographies


Patrick Flavin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Baylor University. His research interests include political inequality, politics and quality of life, US state politics, political behavior, public policy, and research methods.

Jake Haselswerdt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. Prior to coming to Missouri, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan and an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. He earned his PhD from George Washington University.

David K. Jones is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Law, Policy and Management at Boston University’s School of Public Health. David’s research examines the politics of health reform and the social determinants of health. His book forthcoming with Oxford University Press – Exchange Politics: Opposing Obamacare in Battleground States – examines how states made decisions about what type of health insurance exchange to establish as part of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation. He is working on a new book using Photovoice to examine the social determinants of health in the Mississippi Delta, re-tracing Robert Kennedy’s steps in the region 50 years after his iconic trip. David is a past recipient of the AcademyHealth Outstanding Dissertation Award, the AUPHA John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators, and the BUSPH Excellence in Teaching Award.

Julianna Pacheco is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She received her Ph.D. from Penn State University in 2010 and was a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the University of Michigan from 2010-2012. Her research explores political behavior, public opinion, state and local politics, and health policy, widely defined (her subfields include youth voter turnout, dynamic state public opinion, policy diffusion, state agenda setting, dynamic policy responsiveness, and anti-smoking legislation). She has published in journal outlets such as The Journal of Politics, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Political Behavior. She is currently working on a project (funded by the Russell Sage Foundation) on ACA attitudes across the American states.

Eric M. Patashnik is the Julis-Rabinowitz Professor of Public Policy and Political Science and Director of the Brown University Public Policy Program. Patashnik is the editor of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. He is also Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. Before coming to Brown, Patashnik held faculty positions at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA, and the department of political science at Yale University. Patashnik is the author and editor of several books including Reforms at Risk: What Happens After Major Policy Changes Are Enacted (Princeton University Press, 2008), which received the Louis Brownlow Book Award. His most recent book (with Alan S. Gerber and Conor M. Dowling) is Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence Based Medicine (Princeton University Press, 2017). Patashnik received both his MPP and PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.

Philip Rocco is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Marquette University. His work focuses on the political economy of policy expertise and the politics of policy change. He is a co-author of Obamacare Wars: Federalism, State Politics, and the Affordable Care Act (University Press of Kansas, 2016) and has published articles in, among other venues, Journal of Health Policy, Politics, and Law, Journal of Public Policy, and Journal of Aging and Social Policy.

Boris Shor is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston. Previously, he held faculty positions in the Department of Government at Georgetown University and the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. In 2011-2013, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy, located at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University. His research interests include legislative institutions, ideology, political parties, and polarization often but not exclusively at the state level. He has specific policy interests in health care and policy reform.

Ling Zhu is assistant professor of political science at the University of Houston. Her research interests include the political economy of the welfare state, health policy, social inequality in healthcare and health outcomes, and the management of local health service networks.