Philip Rocco

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Marquette University
Chapter Member: Wisconsin SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Philip

Rocco's research examines the political economy of policy knowledge in the United States. A central dilemma of contemporary American politics is that ideological polarization has eroded a shared cognitive basis for reasoning about how to solve public problems. To better understand this dilemma, his work builds on comparative political economy scholarship on how the US “knowledge regime”—the organizational infrastructure that generates ideational frameworks, analysis, and advice—affects the way that policymakers recognize problems, build coalitions, and develop viable policy solutions. While existing work treats variation in knowledge regimes across national contexts, he shows that variation within the US context—across time, policy area, and institutional venue—has significant consequences for the character of public policy. His published and forthcoming work also focuses on how fragmented policy designs are shaping the politics and policy of health care in the US, as well as how policymakers and frontline workers overcome challenges associated with fragmentation.



Why Work Requirements Will Not Improve Medicaid

The Political Roots of Uncooperative Federalism

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Opinion: "Prisoners of Their Own Device," Philip Rocco, The American Prospect, April 6, 2023.
Guest on Wisconsin Public Radio, June 27, 2017.
Opinion: "Will Congress Listen to the Kochs or to the Docs on Health Care?," Philip Rocco, The Cap Times, June 25, 2017.
Opinion: "Republicans Can Still Harm Obamacare through Neglect," Philip Rocco, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 28, 2017.
Opinion: "Partisan Warfare, Fragmented Institutions, and Market Challenges Continue to Shape the Rollout of ObamaCare," Philip Rocco (with Daniel Béland and Alex Waddan), LSE American Politics and Policy Blog, January 22, 2014.
Opinion: "How Patronage Politics Ate the Port Authority," Philip Rocco (with Chloe Thurston), The Monkey Cage Blog, January 13, 2014.


"How Intense Policy Demanders Shape Post-Reform Politics: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act" Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 43, no. 2 (2018): 271-304.

Argues that “intense policy demanders” played an important role in defining the policy alternatives that comprised congressional Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. 

"The Anti-Analytic Presidency Revisited" The Forum 15, no. 2 (2017).
"Obamacare Wars: Federalism, State Politics, and the Affordable Care Act" (with Daniel Béland and Alex Waddan) (University Press of Kansas, 2016).

Shows how the Affordable Care Act's intergovernmental structure, which entails the participation of both the federal government and the states, has deeply shaped the politics of implementation. Focusing on the creation of insurance exchanges, the expansion of Medicaid, and execution of regulatory reforms examines how opponents of the Act fought back against its implementation.

"Making Federalism Work? The Politics of Intergovernmental Collaboration and the PPACA" Journal of Health and Human Services Administration 37, no. 4 (2015): 412-61.

Draws on interviews with state health-insurance personnel in over thirty states to show the influence and limits of partisanship on shaping patterns of collaboration between federal and state officials under the Affordable Care Act.

"From Metaphors to Measures: Observable Indicators of Gradual Institutional Change" (with Chloe Thurston). Journal of Public Policy 34, no. 1 (2014): 35-62.

Outlines a method for noticing difficult-to-spot changes to public policy that happen “off the radar,” without formal changes in legislation or rules.

"Implementing Health Reform in the United States: Intergovernmental Politics and the Dilemmas of Institutional Design" (with Daniel Béland and Alex Waddan). Health Policy 116, no. 1 (2014): 51-60.
Reviews how the fragmentation of authority between the federal government and the states in the Affordable Care Act has given opponents of the law leverage to contest the legislation as it is rolled out.
"Obamacare, Universal Credit, and the Trilemma of Public Services" (with Daniel Béland and Alex Waddan). Public Administration Review 74, no. 2 (2014).

Compares the Affordable Care Act to the Universal Credit in the United Kingdom to show how increasing demand for individualized government services cannot be met under conditions of increasing budget austerity and a polarized politics of accountability.

"Is Federalism a Political Safety Valve? Evidence from Congressional Decision-Making, 1960–2005" (with Sara Chatfield). Publius: The Journal of Federalism 44, no. 1 (2014): 1-23.
Shows that neither conflict between the President and Congress, nor contemporary patterns of political polarization cause Congress to delegate more power to the states rather than the federal government.