Categories: ASHEcon

Presidential Address, Awards and Membership Luncheon: How Can Health Economists Best Contribute to Health Care Reform?

Lamont Sutton, PhD Student
Rollins School of Public Health
Emory University


At the opening luncheon, ASHEcon recognized those who have made outstanding contributions in the field of health economics. Four highly prestigious awards were presented:

  • The Victor R. Fuchs Award went to Thomas McGuire, Ph.D., professor of health economics.
  • The ASHEcon Medal went to Benjamin Handel, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, and Jonathan Kolstad, Ph.D., associate professor of economic analysis and policy.
  • The Willard Manning Award went to Pat Bajari, Ph.D., chief economist and vice president (Amazon), Han Hong, Ph.D., professor of economics, Minjung Park, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, and Robert Town, Ph.D., professor of economics, for their paper entitled, “Estimating Price Sensitivity of Economic Agents Using Discontinuity in Nonlinear Contracts”.
  • The Student Paper Award went to Emily Lawler, Ph.D., for her paper entitled, “Effectiveness of Vaccination Recommendations versus Mandates: Evidence from the Hepatitis A Vaccine”.

Following the presentation of awards, Jonathan Gruber, Ph.D., professor of economics, delivered the keynote address entitled, “How Can Health Economists Best Contribute to Health Care Reform?”. To address this question, Gruber charted a series of connections between health economics research and policymaking from lessons learned in his prior experience. Specifically, he urged his audience to consider several considerations in pursuit of producing high-impact, translational research. These include recognizing empirical evidence as the basis for political decision-making; meeting the demand for more objective analysis; communicating clearly and effectively to policymakers; disseminating research results across political spheres with an emphasis on the local context; and making healthcare policy a long-term investment. Fittingly, in the close of his speech, Gruber empowered us to pursue high-impact research to inform policymaking and change lives. “We need to look at what we are doing, why it matters, and take it to the world to make it a better place,” said Gruber.