Categories: ASHEcon, Newsletter, Newsletter Issue 2018:1

Ten Questions for Jason Hockenberry, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management, Emory University, and Head of the Host Committee for ASHEcon 2018 in Atlanta

1. What were the main reasons for deciding to host ASHEcon at Emory this year?

It made sense to us because Atlanta has a large, collegial group of health economists and health services researchers employed across academic institutions, government agencies, and private research foundations. From a conference organizer perspective, Emory is located near a major airport, and has a compact campus and conference center that accommodates a meeting of this size.

2. What’s the health economics landscape across the various departments and schools at Emory?

We have colleagues at Emory researching areas germane to health economics in the Rollins School of Public Health, Economics Department, Emory School of Medicine, and Goizueta Business School.

3. What’s the broad community of health economists like in Atlanta?

Our health economics research community extends far beyond just our campus. Multiple academic institutions in the area are part of various consortia that support health economics research. For example, the Census Restricted Data Center hosted by our colleagues at the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank is supported by Emory, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia (among others) which are all either in Atlanta or within a short distance. In addition, there are health economists working throughout the CDC, and at the American Cancer Society. We share access to research and policy seminars, and even organize an annual regional health economics research day.

4. What (if anything) will be lost by switching ASHEcon to a “hotel” model next year?

I think it reduces the opportunity for strong health economics research groups to increase their internal visibility with their institutional leadership and colleagues working in areas more distal from ours. Tony will also lose the opportunity to hone his administrative and negotiating skills through interactions with idiosyncratic bureaucracies inherent in every academic institution.

5. What food / sights / etc. in Atlanta should visiting health economists be sure to see?

First, when you arrive at Hartsfield Jackson, or when departing consider walking through the airport rather than taking the plane train. It is a good way to get in some low intensity exercise and there are some interesting permanent art exhibits along the corridor. For example, between terminal B&C is the walk through Atlanta history exhibit. I would also consider the Martin Luther King National Historical Park and the Center for Civil and Human Rights to be distinctive opportunities for an educational experience while in town.

As for restaurants, there is quite a selection, and the host committee is working to compile a document that lays some of this out. Atlanta has a lot of neighborhoods with great restaurant options at all price points. There are some adjacent to the conference center and campus (Emory Pointe and Emory Village areas). For those looking to explore, the main divide geographically is interstate 285—-what is locally called ‘the perimeter’— that circles the urban core of the city. Inside the perimeter (ITP) consider searching in the downtown Decatur area, Inman Park, Edgewood, Virginia Highlands and Midtown areas that are relatively close to campus. 

6. What are you working on currently?

Two main areas: the economic effects of behavioral health policies, mostly substance use and abuse, both licit and illicit, and provider performance and decision-making.

7. What’s the most exciting or unexpected research opportunity that you’ve had only because you moved to Atlanta?

Collaborating with the Injury Prevention Center at CDC, particularly the prescription drug overdose team.

8. What (if any) are features of ASHEcon this year that were only possible in Atlanta (e.g., anything involving the CDC)?

a. The CDC and other local non-academic institutions like the American Cancer Society have many individuals working in areas of interest to economists. Being here should attract more of these potential collaborators and colleagues to the conference and increase interaction.
b. Everyone (nearly) having access to direct flights to the conference? *humor intended*

9. What should ASHEcon make sure to include in the conference in Washington, D.C. next year (e.g., presentations from policy makers, special events in historic venues, etc.)?

Specific opportunities to interact with colleagues in related agencies, including funding agencies.

10. Anything else you’d like to add?

If you are curious about where locals look for tasty, authentic, international cuisine at very reasonable prices, consider the eateries on the Buford highway, which is also fairly close. More to come….