Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker recognized for work on health policy

Hacker has been awarded the 2020 Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance.
Jacob S. Hacker
Jacob S. Hacker

Yale political scientist Jacob S. Hacker has been awarded the 2020 Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance.

The National Academy of Social Insurance presents the award annually to an individual whose recent work has significantly impacted the U.S. social insurance system. Hacker, the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), was recognized for “his profoundly influential research and writings on health policy,” especially his development of the “public option,” a proposal to create a government-run health insurance agency that would compete with private health insurance companies, according to the award announcement. 

Jacob Hacker has been a singularly creative analyst and clear-headed thinker about health and social policy,” said Paul Starr, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. “When he speaks up, pay attention.”

Hacker, an expert on the politics of U.S. health and social policy, has authored or co-authored six books, numerous journal articles, and a wide range of popular writings on American politics and public policy. In 2007, he authored a proposal for universal health care reform, “Health Care for America,” that helped shape the national debate over health policy. He edited “Health At Risk: America's Ailing Health System—and How to Heal It” (2008).

Jacob’s work sets the terms for debate on health care reform,” said Alan Gerber, dean of the Social Science Division of the FAS. “It is a privilege to have such a path-breaking and influential scholar on our faculty and wonderful to see his scholarship recognized through this important prize.”

Hacker’s research goes beyond health policy. He wrote, with Paul Pierson, “Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class” (2010) — a New York Times bestseller. He is the author of “American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper” (2016), also written with Pierson, which was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Their latest book, “Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality,” is scheduled for release next month.

A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2004, Hacker most recently served on the organization’s Medicare Eligibility Study Panel, which issued a report, “Examining Approaches to Expand Medicare Eligibility: Key Design Options and Implications,” in March 2020. Hacker co-chaired the academy's 2007 conference, — “For the Common Good: What Role for Social Insurance?” — and served on its board from 2005 to 2013.

Professor Hacker has lifted the visibility of issues of equity in designing social insurance programs, and the role they can play to mitigate risks and underlying inequalities by race, gender and class,” said William Spriggs, chief economist at the AFL-CIO and recipient of the 2016 Ball Award. “His contributions reach beyond the American context, and speak to the larger fallout of the neoliberal over-reliance on market forces that has caused the global spread of inequality among advanced economies.”

The award honors Robert M. Ball, who served as U.S. commissioner of social security from 1962 to 1973.

Hacker currently serves on the boards of The Century Foundation, Economic Policy Institute, and The American Prospect. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Scholars Strategy Network steering committee, and a former junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He is also a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s high-level expert group on the measurement of economic performance and social progress.

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Bess Connolly : elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu,