Southeastern economist named to state Medicaid subcommittee

Thursday, December 8, 2016
by: Rene Abadie

     HAMMOND – The Louisiana Legislature’s Health and Social Services Estimating Conference recently named Lara Gardner, an associate professor in the Southeastern Louisiana University College of Business, as its health economist.
     With a specialty in health economics and health policy and almost 20 years of teaching experience in the field of economics, she was selected after a rigorous search and interviews of economists from several universities. Her primary role will be to help members of the conference and its Medicaid subcommittee develop spending forecasts and to review other information related to the Medicaid program.
     “She will be a tremendous asset to our group and our efforts to manage Medicaid costs,” said conference member Sen. Sharon Hewitt of Slidell, author of SB433, which created the subcommittee during the 2016 Regular Legislative Session. “I’m looking forward to working with her.”
     While a significant portion of the state budget is connected to the Medicaid program, the state’s ability to grasp costs and utilization of services during the budget process has been limited in the past, according to Hewitt. The new subcommittee is tasked with performing a quarterly review of Medicaid data by financial experts and healthcare economists to more accurately forecast Medicaid expenses and to bring more transparency and public input into the process.
     “I honestly believe that this will become one of the most important committees in the Legislature as it oversees the forecasting of healthcare expenses, just as the Revenue Estimating Conference oversees the forecasting of revenue,” said Hewitt. “With healthcare expenses being 45 percent of our state’s 2017 budget, managing the state’s largest expense during a time of extraordinary fiscal challenges is more critical than ever.”
     Gardner holds the Bruce Dugas Endowed Professorship in Business in the Southeastern Department of Management and Business Administration and serves on the editorial board for the “Research in Business and Economics Journal.”
     She holds a doctorate in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in economics and undergraduate degree in international affairs from Florida State University. She joined the Southeastern faculty in 2007.

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