Fall 2023 - 60985 - PA 680PA - Policy Research Project


Instructor: Todd Olmstead

Client: Integral Care (Travis County’s Local Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority)

Seats: 14

Ideal for: students interested in health care policy, economic evaluation methods, and spreadsheet modeling

Travel: Local

Meets: Thursday 2-5pm

Skills: No special skills required

Formally, a wrong-pocket problem (WPP) occurs when the implementation costs of a promising program fall disproportionately on one entity while many/most of the benefits accrue to a different entity.  Less formally, WPPs occur when the money to pay for a program comes out of one pocket (e.g., mine) while many/most of the financial benefits flow back into a different pocket (e.g., yours).  Why is this a problem?  Because if I’m paying for the bulk of the program, but you are getting the bulk of the program’s benefits, then I’m probably not going to invest the “socially efficient” amount in that program, and so the program risks being chronically underfunded.  Pockets can be separated for many reasons, including divisions within and between organizations, geographical boundaries, and time.


The client for this Policy Research Project (PRP) is Integral Care (Travis County’s Local Mental Health and Intellectual and Development Disability Authority).  Integral Care operates many programs that are subject to the wrong-pocket problem and so risk being chronically underfunded. 


This PRP aims to help Integral Care (IC) in two important ways.  First, students will conduct an economic evaluation of one or more of IC’s programs to determine “who wins, who loses, and by how much.” Armed with that information, students will then develop a strategy to guide IC in obtaining sustainable (long-term) funding for the program(s).


How will this work?


The instructor will bring students up to speed on a variety of methods for conducting economic evaluations of health care programs (mostly during the first nine sessions of the fall semester – see tentative schedule).  Students will bring themselves up to speed on the specific Integral Care program(s) under study as well as ways to “solve” the wrong-pocket problem for these programs.


Instruction Mode