New UC Berkeley health care research center established today with $2 million from state attorney general's office

By Patricia McBroom, Public Affairs

BERKELEY-- A new research center for the study of health care markets and consumer welfare was established today (Wednesday, June 23) at the University of California, Berkeley. To launch the center, California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer allocated $2 million, money from the settlement of a 1970s antitrust case brought by the state against Levi Strauss and Company.

The new Nicholas C. Petris Center on Health Care Markets and Consumer Welfare is named in honor of former California State Senator Nicholas Petris. It will focus on consumer protection, affordability and access to health care - especially by low- and moderate-income consumers - and the role of information in consumer choice. It also will assess concentration, regulation and competition in the health care sector.

"In this period of major change in the delivery of health care, high quality information and analysis is critical to inform and guide health policy for the state," said Edward Penhoet, dean of UC Berkeley's School of Public Health.

The school's faculty have a long tradition of service in this field. The School of Public Health is one of the world's preeminent centers for promoting and protecting human health and is noted for the excellence of its teaching, research and service programs.

The center's new director is Richard Scheffler, a UC Berkeley professor of health economics and public policy in the School of Public Health and the Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy.

"The mission of the Petris center will be to provide up-to-date information on the changes in the California health care system that directly impact consumers," said Scheffler. "This will help ensure that the health care market provides high-quality care at competitive prices."

Scheffler said the center will develop a health services and health policy research program capable of serving the informational needs of the California attorney general's office and other interested parties in the state.

"This ongoing capacity will enable the center to collect and analyze empirical data, disseminate findings on the impact of managed care practices and health care policies on the market and on consumers, and instruct interested parties through workshops and symposia," he said.

Penhoet said the school is honored to use Petris's name for the center.

"Petris's career has been characterized by a deep concern for the health and education of Californians," said Penhoet. "While he served in the California state senate, he was a leader in developing policies that addressed the health care needs of people from all walks of life, and also was a strong supporter of the University of California."

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