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.

iCite Analysis       Copy PMIDs To Clipboard

  1. Shafer PR, Yuan Y, Feyman Y, Price ME, Kabdiyeva A, Figueroa SM, Shen YJ, Nebeker JR, Ward MC, Strombotne KL, Pizer SD. Effect of mental health staffing inputs on initiation of care among recently separated Veterans. Health Serv Res. 2024 Jun 02.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38826037
  2. Garrido MM, Biko D, Dorneo A, Shafer PR, Frakt AB. Access to insurance navigation support through the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Health Aff Sch. 2024 Jun; 2(6):qxae072.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38911681; PMCID: PMC11192052; DOI: 10.1093/haschl/qxae072;
  3. Lim K, Nguyen KH, Goutos D, Shafer PR, Buitron de la Vega P, Cole MB. The Association Between Hospital-Based Food Pantry Use and Subsequent Emergency Department Utilization Among Medicaid Patients With Diabetes. J Ambul Care Manage. 2024 Jul-Sep 01; 47(3):122-133.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38744317; DOI: 10.1097/JAC.0000000000000499;
  4. Saeed I, Barr K, Palani S, Shafer P, Pizer S. Comparison of Full-Time Equivalent and Clinic Time Labor Input Measures in Productivity Metrics. J Healthc Manag. 2024 May-Jun 01; 69(3):178-189.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38728544
  5. Palani S, Saeed I, Legler A, Sadej I, MacDonald C, Kirsh SR, Pizer SD, Shafer PR. Effect of the Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act Scribes Trial on Emergency Department Provider Productivity and Patient Throughput Times. J Emerg Med. 2024 Jul; 67(1):e89-e98.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38824039
  6. Xie W, Hsu HE, Shafer PR, Podolsky MI, Stokes AC. Metabolic Disease and The Risk of Post-COVID Conditions: A Retrospective Cohort Study. medRxiv. 2024 Mar 27.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38585713; PMCID: PMC10996723; DOI: 10.1101/2024.03.26.24304845;
  7. Shafer PR, Palani S, Saeed I, Legler A, Barr K, Carvalho K, Pizer SD. Costs and Productivity Benefits of the Department of Veterans Affairs Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act Scribes Trial. Value Health. 2024 Jun; 27(6):713-720.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38462222
  8. 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;
  9. 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;
  10. 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 Aff Sch. 2024 Feb; 2(2):qxae011.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38756550; PMCID: PMC10986194; DOI: 10.1093/haschl/qxae011;
Showing 10 of 85 results. Show More

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

Bar chart showing 85 publications over 13 distinct years, with a maximum of 13 publications in 2021


Free cash programs spread as more cities expand the anti-poverty safety net

NBC News 4/13/2024

Permanently Expanding the Child Tax Credit Can Make Generational Change

BU Today 2/13/2024

Children in 1 million more families faced food insecurity in 2022, USDA says

Local 3 News 10/25/2023

Children in 1 million more families faced food insecurity in 2022, USDA says

CNN 10/25/2023

Millions of Americans at risk of losing free preventive care after Texas ruling on ACA

The Conversation 4/7/2023

Federal judge says insurers no longer have to provide some preventive care services, including cancer and heart screenings, at no cost

CNN 3/31/2023

‘I got scammed’: Americans describe getting surprise medical bills via health care loopholes

yahoo 3/11/2023

15 Million Americans Could Soon Lose Medicaid Coverage

Newsweek 2/16/2023

U.S. Child Hunger Spiked in Weeks After Child Tax Credits Repealed

Health Day 10/24/2022

Food insufficiency increased in US households by 25% after expiration of Child Tax Credit payments

News Medical 10/21/2022

Food Insufficiency Up 25% Since Manchin, GOP Killed Child Tax Credit Boost

Common Dreams 10/21/2022

A Self-Inflicted Wound: The Looming Loss of Coverage

MedPage Today 10/2/2022

Free preventive care under the ACA is under threat again – a ruling exempting PrEP from insurance coverage may extend nationwide and to other health services

The Conversation 9/13/2022

Federal government steps in to help pull Missouri out of Medicaid backlog

Missouri Independent 8/9/2022

When a Medicaid Card Isn't Enough

Tradeoffs 5/17/2022

Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments Linked to Decline in Food Insufficiency

HealthCity 3/1/2022

The sunsetting of the child tax credit expansion could leave many families without enough food on the table

The Conversation 1/21/2022

Advance child tax credits reduced US food insufficiency by 26 percent

California News Times 1/14/2022

Special Pandemic Payments Staved Off Hunger for Children's Families

MedPage Todat 1/13/2022

Advance Child Tax Credit payments cut food insufficiency by 26%, study finds

UPI 1/13/2022

The next attack on the Affordable Care Act may cost you free preventive health care

The Conversation 9/7/2021

Study: People in Most Need Least Likely to Benefit from COVID Crowdfunds

Verywell Health 7/8/2021

New BU Lab Studies Medicaid, Where Racism, Poverty, and COVID-19 Meet

BU Today 2/17/2021

New BU Lab Studies Medicaid, Where Racism, Poverty, and COVID-19 Meet

BU Today 2/17/2021

The Health 202: The U.S. is poised for another wave of covid-19 deaths, public health experts warn

The Washington Post 11/12/2020

What Canada’s COVID response can teach the U.S. about social safety nets

Fortune 10/23/2020

4 things students should know about their health insurance and COVID-19 before heading to college this fall

The Conversation 7/14/2020

POV: COVID-19 Has Exposed Serious Gaps in the US Social Safety Net

BU Today 6/18/2020

Coronavirus weekly: where next for globalization after the crisis?

The Conversation 5/27/2020

4 Ways COVID-19 Has Exposed Gaps in the US Social Safety Net

The Conversation 5/25/2020

Wait times remain stubbornly long in hospital emergency rooms

The Conversation 4/29/2020

Op-Ed: New rules from the Trump administration will hurt El Paso shooting victims

Los Angeles Times 8/23/2019

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
Contact for Mentoring:
Shafer's Networks
Click the "See All" links for more information and interactive visualizations
Media Mentions
Similar People
Same Department