Collins, Fletcher, Jacobs, Weimer receive Kohl funding for research, project assistants

J. Michael Collins, Jason Fletcher, Lindsay Jacobs, Dave Weimer

Four La Follette School faculty members have received funding from the Herb Kohl Public Service Research Competition’s third round of awards. The Kohl Competition supports nonpartisan research that informs critical public policy and governance debates and advances evidence-based decision-making.

Former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl has pledged $300,000 each year beginning in 2016 to support the research competition. Sen. Kohl, a 1956 alumnus of UW–Madison, is a member of the La Follette School’s Board of Visitors.

Professor Jason Fletcher received funding to study reproductive health policies and outcomes, while Associate Professor J. Michael Collins’ award supports his research about how out-of-pocket health care costs affect Wisconsin families. In addition, Assistant Professor Lindsay Jacobs and Professor Dave Weimer will use their funding to study cardiac surgery outcomes and volume threshold policies.

The awards include financial support for four La Follette School students to serve as project assistants. In addition to working with a faculty member, students receive free tuition and a stipend, and gain valuable experience.

“These projects bring faculty members’ research directly to state and national policymakers as well the general public,” said La Follette School Board of Visitors member Chuck Pruitt, who served on the selection committee. “Funding also benefits students, who will work alongside these highly talented scholars as project assistants.”

The funded projects are:
In Utero Conditions, Reproductive Health Policies and Life Course Outcomes: This project will use restricted-access data on birth records to explore the impacts of policy-induced changes in access to family planning and abortion clinics on women’s and children’s health outcomes, and it will estimate causal effects of in utero exposure to high levels on air pollution on measures of adult socioeconomic status. Jason Fletcher, professor of public affairs, sociology, population health, and applied economics.

How Are Real and Perceived Health Care Out-of-Pocket Costs Impacting Families in Wisconsin: With WEA Trust health insurance, Collins will document the frequency and amount of medical out-of-pocket costs for typical patients by age, family size, and other characteristics based on WEA data. It also will conduct a novel survey to document how accurately patients and providers estimate the out-of-pocket costs of common health care services. J. Michael Collins, associate professor of public affairs and human ecology.

Surgeon Learning and Improvements in Cardiac Surgery Outcomes: Implications for Volume Threshold Policies: This research will examine whose mortality outcomes are most improved by learning through surgical experience and the introduction of new procedures – early- or late-career surgeons. It also will address volume-based referral strategies in health policy and how they can be refined through a better understanding of the relationships among outcomes, accumulated versus annual procedure volume, and surgeon years of experience. Lindsay Jacobs, assistant professor of public affairs, and Dave Weimer, professor of political economy.