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Stephen M. Davidson
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Stephen M. Davidson is professor of health policy and management at the Boston University School of Management. From 1985 to 1990, he directed the School’s graduate program in health administration studies. Davidson is a graduate of Swarthmore College and has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Prior to arriving at Boston University in 1985, he taught at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. His latest book, Still Broken: Understanding the U.S. Health Care System, was published in April 2010 by Stanford University Press. He is author, co-author, or co-editor of five previous books and numerous articles. His books include Medicaid Decisions: A Systematic Analysis of the Cost Problem (1980); The Cost of Living Longer: National Health Insurance and the Elderly (1980) with T.R. Marmor, J.D. Perloff, M. Spear, and N. Aitken; The Physician-Manager Alliance: Building the Healthy Health Care Organization (1996) with M. E. McCollom and J. N. Heineke; and Remaking Medicaid: Managed Care for the Public Good (1998) co-edited with S. A. Somers.

Davidson’s research has explored key issues in the health sector for many years. He began with assessments of Medicaid policies pointing out, among other things, the inverse relationship between eligibility and provider payment rates. He conducted a 13-state study of physician participation in Medicaid, which identified key reasons (in addition to low payment rates) that discouraged physicians from treating Medicaid patients. In the early 1980s, he led a demonstration designed to cut through the heated rhetoric surrounding the managed care initiatives. In Suffolk County, New York, participating physicians were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups to test the effects of prepayment on utilization, expenditures, and physician and patient satisfaction. Other projects included studies of managed care, physician-manager relationships, community health centers, an innovative demonstration of subsidized health insurance, quality of care, and information technology in health care.

Entries by Stephen M. Davidson

Assessing the Affordable Care Act: Don't Forget the Context!

(4) Comments | Posted October 29, 2013 | 1:02 PM

Among the most dysfunctional characteristics of the current political era is the hyperbole that attaches to even minor issues and the inability to acknowledge the importance of context in assessing the importance of events.

Case in point: The overwrought comments about the difficulties with the launch of the website...

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It's Maddening

(2) Comments | Posted September 30, 2013 | 8:53 AM

Predictably, as October first approaches, the level of attention focused on the Affordable Care Act has grown both in volume and intensity. While the administration encourages uninsured Americans to get ready to sign up through the Health Insurance Exchanges, opponents once again argue for repeal or, failing that, for starving...

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What Winning Means

(2) Comments | Posted November 12, 2012 | 3:57 PM

The quadrennial choice for president is the only time all Americans vote on the same question. At the same time we do that, we also elect one-third of the Senators and the entire House of Representatives, but in smaller geographic units.

It used to be that, if the...

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The Supreme Court and Health Care Reform

(23) Comments | Posted June 18, 2012 | 11:43 AM

Even close Supreme Court watchers are reluctant to predict what the justices will decide about the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In this relative calm before the rhetoric inevitably escalates -- no matter what the decision is -- it might be useful to review the...

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Romney and Health Care

(2) Comments | Posted May 2, 2012 | 5:50 PM

Mitt Romney, the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee, has worked hard to distance himself from the Massachusetts health care reform law he championed during his single term as the state's governor. The reason, of course, is that it is a lot like the Affordable Care Act (ACA) President Obama signed into...

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Antidote for a Depressing Time

(0) Comments | Posted August 10, 2011 | 2:56 PM

We have just experienced one of the most depressing periods in government and politics since I began following them many years ago.

It is partly due to the Tea Party, of course -- know-nothing ideologues who think government spending and higher taxes on the wealthy and profitable...

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Reforming Medicare Without Harming Seniors

(8) Comments | Posted June 14, 2011 | 5:51 PM

Everyone wants to reform Medicare. Program spending has been rising for years and needs to be brought under control. Congressional Republicans, who adopted "the Ryan plan," would like to transform Medicare into financial support for seniors and the disabled who would then search the private insurance market for affordable coverage....

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The Impossible Dream: Health Insurers Will Improve the Health Care System

(25) Comments | Posted May 19, 2011 | 11:36 AM

The Times reported recently (Reed Abelson, Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care, May 13, 2011) that "major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits." A major reason for their "success": utilization is down among their policy holders and, therefore, care providers are submitting...

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Amazing Medicare!

(60) Comments | Posted April 23, 2011 | 5:03 PM

At first glance, it appears to be one of the most remarkable political stories in a long time: a new poll shows not only that 80 percent of all Americans do not want Medicare to be cut, but, amazingly, that total includes 70 percent of self-identified tea-partiers. How...

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The Pledge to Repeal Health Care Reform Disqualifies Carly Fiorina and Others From Election to the Senate

(2) Comments | Posted November 2, 2010 | 2:26 PM

There may be a lot of reasons to vote against Carly Fiorina as Senator of California. But one reason is obvious, even from 3000 miles away on the other coast. She says she would vote to repeal the new health care law.

Does she think the problems facing...

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Why Support the Imperfect Health Care Reform Law: An Extended Path of Progress

(3) Comments | Posted October 8, 2010 | 11:04 AM

In the previous article ("Why Support the Imperfect Health Care Reform Law -- Part One"), I made the case that the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) deserves support because of the good it will do for so many Americans and for the health care system as a whole....

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Why the Imperfect Health Care Reform Law Deserves Support -- 1

(7) Comments | Posted September 27, 2010 | 12:15 PM

We are being told now that Republicans are serious about undoing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that the president signed in March. They want to eliminate specific provisions they don't like and, perhaps even more importantly, to starve it of the funds needed for implementation. Sure, the law is imperfect,...

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Round 1.5: Maximizing the Benefits of Health Care Reform

(8) Comments | Posted July 12, 2010 | 3:52 PM

The imperfect health care reform law President Obama signed in March was no one's first choice. Recognizing the progress in its provisions, however, some have called it Round 1 on the road to a more perfect system. And while it focused primarily on expanding access to coverage, they expect...

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What's Wrong With Me?

(3) Comments | Posted March 23, 2010 | 2:57 PM

I'm trying to figure out what's wrong with me. My new senator, Scott Brown, and his Republican colleagues are telling us that "the American people are angry" about the new health care reform legislation. But even though I am an American born and bred, I'm not angry, and I am...

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The Final Push

(2) Comments | Posted March 3, 2010 | 11:50 AM

Policy analysts are focusing now on the cost to the health care system and the nation of doing nothing (see the New York Times's Week in Review section, 2.28.10). But many of the 535 men and women whose votes will determine the outcome on health care reform -- especially...

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Insurers v. Hospitals: Another Reason We Need Reform

(8) Comments | Posted February 1, 2010 | 4:28 PM

The New York Times ran a story last week about negotiations between a health insurer and hospital group that deserves comment. First, some familiar context.

The U. S. has the most expensive health care system in the world by far. There are lots of reasons: inefficiencies, waste, high incomes for...

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What Should Progressives Do?

(32) Comments | Posted December 20, 2009 | 11:44 PM

Not surprisingly, progressives are disappointed at the turn the battle over health care reform has taken. The Senate is considering a bill that is much watered down even from the House-passed bill, which also left a lot to be desired.

While both would add 30 million or more Americans...

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Still Worth Passing

(1) Comments | Posted December 16, 2009 | 4:49 PM

In my view, the bills still in play are still worth passing - even given their obvious weaknesses. Why? Because this entire health care reform episode has been not an exercise in policy analysis, but rather a lesson in politics. The tipoff came right at the start because the plans...

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By Revealing Their True Colors, Insurers Eliminate Any Reason to Compromise With Them

(20) Comments | Posted October 17, 2009 | 3:56 PM

The release of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report reveals the insurance industry's true colors for all to see. Everyone who has followed events closely saw insurers publicly supporting reform ("We want to work with you, Mr. President."). The pros knew that, at the same time, their lobbyists have been working hard to...

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The Devil Is in the Details

(1) Comments | Posted September 9, 2009 | 3:52 PM

Reliance on competition among private insurers is fundamentally a weak approach to health care reform. (The reason is that to keep prices low, insurers have only two levers to pull: they can refuse to insure people at high risk for using services, and they can change the conditions of...

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