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, co-director of the Boston University Medicaid Policy Lab, and affiliate faculty of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. 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 closely 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 currently serve 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 with Dr. Ibram Kendi, supporting equity-focused health policy research and translation.

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 could make a difference for their career trajectory. I currently serve and/or have served as a BU Terrier F1RSTS Advocate, BUSPH FirstGen Mentor, and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars Alumni Community Pillar. I was also recognized as a Provost Mentor Fellow at BU in 2021 for my commitment to inclusive mentoring. I advocate for prospective students from non-traditional and underrepresented backgrounds on our PhD admissions committee and our departmental DEIJ committee, 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 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. 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;
  2. Anderson A, Lewis DF, Shafer P, Anderson J, LaVeist TA. Public trust is earned: Historical discrimination, carceral violence, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Serv Res. 2023 Aug; 58 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):218-228. PMID: 37279782; PMCID: PMC10339167; DOI: 10.1111/1475-6773.14187;
  3. Dore EC, Shafer PR, Livingston MD. State-level data on TANF policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Res Notes. 2023 Jun 05; 16(1):97. PMID: 37277783; PMCID: PMC10241382; DOI: 10.1186/s13104-023-06351-w;
  4. Shafer PR, Dusetzina SB, Sabik LM, Platts-Mills TF, Stearns SC, Trogdon JG. High Deductible Health Plans and Use of Free Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act. Inquiry. 2023; 60:469580231182512. PMID: 37329296; PMCID: PMC10278429; DOI: 10.1177/00469580231182512;
  5. Auty SG, Griffith KN, Shafer PR, Gee RE, Conti RM. Improving Access to High-Value, High-Cost Medicines: The Use of Subscription Models to Treat Hepatitis C Using Direct-Acting Antivirals in the United States. J Health Polit Policy Law. 2022 Dec 01; 47(6):691-708.View Related Profiles. PMID: 35867531; PMCID: PMC9789167; DOI: 10.1215/03616878-10041121;
  6. Dore EC, Livingston Iii MD, Shafer PR. Easing Cash Assistance Rules During COVID-19 Was Associated With Reduced Days Of Poor Physical And Mental Health. Health Aff (Millwood). 2022 Nov; 41(11):1590-1597. PMID: 36343321; DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2022.00740;
  7. Katchmar A, Shafer P, Siegel M. Analysis of state portrayals of the risks of e-cigarette use and the cause of the EVALI outbreak. Harm Reduct J. 2022 Oct 05; 19(1):112. PMID: 36199112; PMCID: PMC9535934; DOI: 10.1186/s12954-022-00694-6;
  8. Bovell-Ammon A, McCann NC, Mulugeta M, Ettinger de Cuba S, Raifman J, Shafer P. Association of the Expiration of Child Tax Credit Advance Payments With Food Insufficiency in US Households. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Oct 03; 5(10):e2234438.View Related Profiles. PMID: 36269356; PMCID: PMC9587477; DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.34438;
  9. Feyman Y, Figueroa SM, Yuan Y, Price ME, Kabdiyeva A, Nebeker JR, Ward MC, Shafer PR, Pizer SD, Strombotne KL. Effect of mental health staffing inputs on suicide-related events. Health Serv Res. 2023 Apr; 58(2):375-382.View Related Profiles. PMID: 36089760; PMCID: PMC10012216; DOI: 10.1111/1475-6773.14064;
  10. Shafer PR, Horný M, Dusetzina SB. Monthly Cost-Sharing Limits and Out-of-pocket Costs for Commercially Insured Patients in the US. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 09 01; 5(9):e2233006. PMID: 36107430; PMCID: PMC9478767; DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.33006;
Showing 10 of 68 results. Show More

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

Bar chart showing 68 publications over 12 distinct years, with a maximum of 13 publications in 2021


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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