New Health Policy and Economics Center Established at USC

By James Grant

Leonard D. Schaeffer Center  for Health Policy and Economics

A major new research center focusing on health policy and economics has been established, USC Executive Vice President and Provost C. L. Max Nikias announced.

The Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics is funded by a $1.2 million operating gift from Leonard D. Schaeffer and his wife, Pamela Schaeffer. Leonard Schaeffer was the founding chairman and chief executive officer of WellPoint, the nation’s largest health insurance company, and a recognized expert in health policy and health economics.

The Schaeffer Center will be headed by Dana Goldman, who previously served as director of the RAND Corp.’s health economics, finance and organization division.

“At a time when the nation is struggling with health care reform, we are honored to announce the creation of this new interdisciplinary center, which will bring together USC’s extraordinarily wide range of expertise in order to address one of the most significant issues of our time,” Nikias said.

“The addition of Dana Goldman and three of his distinguished colleagues from the RAND Corp. to our faculty will greatly expand our existing strengths in research and analysis of critical policy decisions.”

The center is a collaboration between the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the USC School of Pharmacy. In addition to his post as director of the Schaeffer Center, Goldman will hold the Norman Topping Chair in Medicine and Public Policy at SPPD, and he also will hold a faculty appointment at the School of Pharmacy.

Two of the three new faculty members – Geoffrey Joyce and Neeraj Sood – have been appointed associate professors at the School of Pharmacy; the third, Darius Lakdawalla, has been appointed associate professor at SPPD. They will be joined in their research and outreach activities by current USC faculty experts in pharmacoeconomics, public insurance and health care financing.

Schaeffer’s gift will assist the new center in its first four years of operation. Significant additional support for the start-up has also been committed by the provost and the deans of the two schools.

“I am pleased to help the university establish a research center at a time when we must set biases aside and challenge assumptions if we are to succeed in transforming health care,” Schaeffer said. “Using a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach, this new center is uniquely positioned to produce innovative research, reliable data and independent analysis that can lead to more effective health policy solutions.”

The center’s research will focus on five key areas: reducing unnecessary spending; improving insurance design; understanding how public policy affects medical innovation; identifying the macroeconomic consequences of U.S. health care costs; and improving comparative effectiveness and outcomes research.

Goldman said the new center’s anticipated research projects include study of how coverage gaps in certain federally funded programs impact patient health and how insurance designs affect physician-prescribing behavior.

“Our goal is to improve the health of our communities by conducting rigorous research that can be applied to policy, rather than by focusing on short-term approaches,” he said.

Leonard Schaeffer is a veteran member of the board of councilors at SPPD, and he holds the Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair, a select executive-in-residence appointment accorded by the university president and named for one of USC’s founders. Schaeffer lectures and writes widely on health policy issues.

As chairman of the Schaeffer Center’s advisory board of scholars and practitioners, he will contribute the knowledge and experience gained from serving in both the public and private sectors. Schaeffer led WellPoint from 1992 through 2004 and continued as chairman through 2005. He is currently chairman of Surgical Care Affiliates and a senior adviser to TPG Capital, a private equity firm.

In 1986, Schaeffer was recruited as CEO of WellPoint’s predecessor company, Blue Cross of California, which was then near bankruptcy. He managed the turnaround of Blue Cross, founded WellPoint and subsequently completed 17 corporate acquisitions. During his tenure, the company grew in value from $11 million to more than $49 billion.

Under Schaeffer’s continued leadership, WellPoint was selected by Fortune as “America’s Most Admired Health Care Company” for six consecutive years and by BusinessWeek as one of the 50 best performing public companies for three consecutive years. Schaeffer was selected by BusinessWeek as one of the “Top 25 Managers of the Year” and by Worth as one of the “50 Best CEOs in America.”

Schaeffer also has an extensive public service record that includes appointments as administrator of the federal Health Care Financing Administration (now CMS); assistant secretary for management and budget of the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare; director of the Bureau of the Budget for the state of Illinois; chairman of the Illinois Capital Development Board; and deputy director of the Illinois Department of Mental Health.

He is a graduate of Princeton University and was the Regent’s Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley.

“Leonard’s involvement assures us success,” said Jack H. Knott, the dean of SPPD. “He is recognized as a national expert in health care financing and delivery. His distinguished career includes noteworthy public service at the federal and state levels, as well as innovative successes as founding CEO of the nation’s largest health care insurer.”

Dean R. Pete Vanderveen of the USC School of Pharmacy said the Schaeffer Center will provide many opportunities for additional collaboration across campus.

“The collaboration between our two schools, resulting in the creation of the Schaeffer Center, provides an opportunity for USC to rank among the very top tier in health economics and policy expertise,” he said. “The center promises to be a vibrant, proactive voice impacting the future direction of health care.”

For more information on the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, visit


Photo by Tom Queally
From left: Dana Goldman, Leonard Schaeffer, Pamela Schaeffer