Paul Shafer, PhD
Assistant Professor
Boston University School of Public Health
Health Law, Policy & Management

PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
MA, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Pronouns: he/him/his

Dr. Shafer is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Law, Policy, and Management and co-director of the Boston University Medicaid Policy Lab. His research focuses on how health insurance and social safety net policies affect health, well-being, and equity. Do they work and are the benefits distributed equitably? If they don't work or have unintended consequences, why and how can we fix them? He is also an investigator with the Partnered Evidence-based Policy Resource Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System and research fellow with the Office of Personnel Management.

He previously served as a research economist at RTI International and junior fellow at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. He is a former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar, which amplified his commitment to policy-engaged scholarship and research translation. He holds a PhD in health policy and management with a concentration in health economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MA in applied economics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a BA in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

I endeavor to incorporate equity into everything I do—Think, Teach, and Do.

Think — The focus of my work is on health insurance and social safety net policies, which are inherently linked to equity and health. I perform rigorous evaluation of policies and campaigns to determine which are most effective and communicate what I learn beyond the research community––to policymakers and the public so they can advocate for and implement evidence-based and/or equitable policies. Often a lack of evidence is used to uphold a status quo that is a legacy of racist and discriminatory systems, unwittingly using science as a weapon to maintain them, which we should resist at every turn. I previously served as co-PI of a Commonwealth Fund grant ("A data-driven approach to ending racial inequity through health policy evaluation and innovation") to the Center for Antiracist Research, where I was a faculty affiliate from inception, supporting equity-focused health policy research and translation. I am currently working with the Office of Personnel Management, the human resources agency of the federal government, to understand affordability and equity in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program, the largest employer health insurance plan in the country.

Teach — I help train underrepresented scholars and bring their voices into the scientific and policymaking arenas. I support first-generation scholars, like me, and scholars of color that are coming up behind me, making the hidden curriculum more visible and investing the time that won’t show up in my CV but can make a difference in their career trajectory. I currently serve as a Terrier F1RSTS Advocate and previously served as BUSPH FirstGen Mentor and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars Alumni Community Pillar. I was recognized as a Provost Mentor Fellow at BU in 2021 for my commitment to inclusive mentoring. I have advocated for students from non-traditional and underrepresented backgrounds on our PhD admissions and departmental DEIJ committees, knowing that reversing inequities in academia and research requires vision and investment. The safe choice is rarely the equitable one, but we can't keep doing things the same way and expect different outcomes.

Do — I continue educating myself on the history and theories of race, class, and inequality, and partner with scholars of different identities and lived experience when conducting research involving communities that I do not represent. Having, and instilling in students, humility and deep respect for the people who our work is informed and/or affected by should always guide our actions. We continue to fight for acknowledgment that systemic racism has causal impacts on health through differences in education, policing, and other factors, providing an understanding upon which policies and institutions can be rebuilt equitably. We clearly have much work to do on this front—the education of American history, universal access to voting, science, and public health have all become politicized and deeply polarized.

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Shafer PR. Does Supporting Children Help Their Parents Thrive? JAMA Netw Open. 2024 Feb 05; 7(2):e2356376. PMID: 38381436; DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.56376;
  2. Garrido MM, Dorneo A, Adelberg M, Biko D, Shafer PR, Frakt AB. Potential inequities in access to in-person SHIP counseling services. Am J Manag Care. 2024 Feb 01; 30(2):e46-e51.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38381548; DOI: 10.37765/ajmc.2024.89500;
  3. McCann NC, Dean LT, Bovell-Ammon A, Ettinger de Cuba S, Green T, Shafer PR, Raifman J. Association between Child Tax Credit advance payments and food insufficiency in households experiencing economic shocks. Health Affairs Scholar. 2024; 2(2):qxae011. View Publication
  4. Shafer PR, Palmer M, Cho A, Lynch M, Louis P, Skinner A. A dataset of geocoded Medicaid office locations in the United States. Data Brief. 2024 Apr; 53:110068. PMID: 38317730; PMCID: PMC10838700; DOI: 10.1016/j.dib.2024.110068;
  5. Shafer PR, Davis A, Clark JA. Finding social need-les in a haystack: ascertaining social needs of Medicare patients recorded in the notes of care managers. BMC Health Serv Res. 2023 Dec 12; 23(1):1400.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38087286; PMCID: PMC10717654; DOI: 10.1186/s12913-023-10446-2;
  6. Feyman Y, Pizer SD, Shafer PR, Frakt AB, Garrido MM. Measuring restrictiveness of Medicare Advantage networks: A claims-based approach. Health Serv Res. 2024 Feb; 59(1):e14255.View Related Profiles. PMID: 37953067; PMCID: PMC10771910; DOI: 10.1111/1475-6773.14255;
  7. Shafer PR, Katchmar A, Callori S, Alam R, Patel R, Choi S, Auty S. Medicaid policy data for evaluating eligibility and programmatic changes. BMC Res Notes. 2023 Oct 03; 16(1):250.View Related Profiles. PMID: 37789360; PMCID: PMC10546693; DOI: 10.1186/s13104-023-06525-6;
  8. Shafer PR, Anderson DM, Horný M, Dusetzina SB. The Practical Challenges Of Implementing Monthly Cost-Sharing Limits In Commercial Health Plans. Health Affairs Forefront. 2023. View Publication
  9. Shafer PR, Lim K, Goutos D, Huberfeld N, Benitez JA, Hsu KS, Raifman JR. Making pandemic era Medicaid continuous coverage automatic in future crises. Health Serv Res. 2023 Dec; 58(6):1157-1160.View Related Profiles. PMID: 37706551; PMCID: PMC10622290; DOI: 10.1111/1475-6773.14225;
  10. Palani S, Saeed I, Legler A, Sadej I, MacDonald C, Kirsh SR, Pizer SD, Shafer PR. Effect of a National VHA Medical Scribe Pilot on Provider Productivity, Wait Times, and Patient Satisfaction in Cardiology and Orthopedics. J Gen Intern Med. 2023 Jul; 38(Suppl 3):878-886.View Related Profiles. PMID: 37340268; PMCID: PMC10356725; DOI: 10.1007/s11606-023-08114-6;
Showing 10 of 77 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 77 publications over 13 distinct years, with a maximum of 13 publications in 2021


2024 Health Affairs Scholar: Peer Review Board
2023 Health Services Research: Editorial Board
2022 Boston University: Teach Award
2022 Tradeoffs: Research Council
2021 Health Services Research: Outstanding Reviewer
2021 AcademyHealth: Best of Annual Research Meeting
2021 AcademyHealth: Best of Health Economics Interest Group
2021 Boston University: Provost Mentor Fellow
2020 Boston University: Early Career Catalyst Award
2019 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Jean G. Yates Outstanding Doctoral Student Award
2019 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Impact Award
2018 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Harry T. Phillips Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Doctoral Student
2017-2019 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Graduate Tuition Incentive Scholarship
2017 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Delta Omega Academic Excellence Award
2016-2019 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Health Policy Research Scholar
2016 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Future Faculty Fellowship
2015 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Doctoral Merit Assistantship
2014 RTI International: President's Award
2014 RTI International: Highly Published Author Award
2012 RTI International: Annual Award
2011 University of North Carolina at Greensboro: Omicron Delta Epsilon
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