Initiatives

In This Section

The center's key research initiatives include:

Promoting Hybrid Health Reform.


Berkeley CHEFS has forged a strong interdisciplinary and cross-institution partnership with the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education to work together on providing analytic support to policy makers engaged in reforming the nation’s health care financing system, increasing access to health care, and making critical changes to how health care is delivered in our country.

Faculty and policy experts from across our institutions are working collaboratively on a series of policy briefs and original papers for wide dissemination to policy makers and the media. They delve into health reform topics such as the case for including a public plan as part of a hybrid health reform model, analysis of the impact and structure of an employer mandate, strategies for containing costs, and a consideration of how existing public programs—such as Medicaid and SCHIP—will be affected by national health reform.

Berkeley CHEFS is creating the infrastructure and capacity to provide reliable technical assistance to policy makers designing health reform at the national and state level, including a Web-based clearinghouse of research-based information on health reform.

In recent months, Berkeley CHEFS faculty co-director Jacob Hacker released two major reports, The Case for Public Plan Choice in National Health Reform and How to Structure Public Health Insurance Plan Choice to Ensure Risk-Sharing, Cost Control, and Quality Improvement, which outlined the reasons why a public insurance plan modeled after Medicare should be offered alongside private plans and an analysis of how such a plan should be structured.

Health Reform Lessons Learned from California and the Nation.


Berkeley CHEFS is collaborating with the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education on a project to analyze political and policy lessons learned from California’s attempt at comprehensive health care reform in 2007 and provide this analysis to lawmakers and policy makers in Washington, D.C. in the form of policy briefs and a white paper.  The project will also be examining potential impacts and policy implications of national health care proposals on California and will be convening a group of national policy makers and academic experts to brief California policy makers on the details of the national reform efforts.

Shared Responsibility, Shared Risk: Government, Markets and Social Policy in the Twenty-First Century.


In partnership with the Social Science Research Council, Berkeley CHEFS is commissioning a series of papers to offer rigorous, creative solutions on how to improve economic security. These papers focus on rethinking the role government and employers should play in protecting workers against risks created by the market, an increasingly globalized economy, changed family structures and responsibilities, and a government that provides declining protection against such risks. This project encourages thinking that offers unified and integrated approaches to the way our society structures risk with an emphasis on addressing risks caused by health care costs, lack of job leave or income insurance, fewer flexible and secure jobs, risky pension and retirement plans, and lack of incentives for debt management and family asset building.  In May 2009, Berkeley CHEFS held a roundtable discussion with academics and policy makers to provide feedback on initial proposals. Authors will use this commentary to prepare final papers to be presented to policy makers at a conference in Washington, D.C. in October 2009 and Berkeley CHEFS will publish these papers as part of an edited volume to be released in Spring 2010.

Unifying Paid Leave.


Congress is considering bills to mandate paid sick leave, provide paid family leave, and reform the unemployment insurance system. Working with Georgetown Law Center’s Workplace Flexibility 2010 project, Berkeley CHEFS will review existing programs and study key issues to help develop a more comprehensive national paid leave policy or greater options for states to provide paid leave. Faculty co-director Steve Sugarman and affiliated Professor of Law Gillian Lester will lead this effort based on their extensive work in the field. Affiliated professor Gillian Lester has developed a paid family leave proposal that critiques expanding unemployment insurance for such purposes. Professor Sugarman has proposed creating a short-term unified leave policy for employees. Both of these ideas will be considered as part of this project.

Making Government Work for Families.


As the nation’s largest employer, contracting agency, and grant maker, the federal government can serve as a model of family-friendly workplace practices, offer incentives to businesses and universities to change their workplace policies, and create a powerful ripple effect across the public and private sectors. This project seeks to determine whether and how the federal government can promote family-friendly workplace practices in businesses with which it contracts and to universities to which it offers grants. Spearheaded by faculty co-director Mary Ann Mason and executive director Ann O’Leary, Berkeley CHEFS will soon release two papers—one on the federal government’s contracting power and the other on its grant-making power—to offer concrete policy proposals on how to use this power to improve family-friendly workplace policies and practices.

A Woman’s Nation.


Berkeley CHEFS will provide intellectual leadership and contributions to a project spearheaded by California First Lady Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. It will take a new, empirical look at American women who—for the first time in history—constitute nearly half the U.S. workforce and are contributing significantly to family incomes while maintaining their roles as primary caregivers. This project will result in a major report on the American woman.  Faculty co-director Mary Ann Mason and executive director Ann O’Leary will each contribute a chapter to this report and Ann O’Leary will serve as co-editor.