Pitt Health Policy Institute names new director of Medicaid Research Center

Evan S. Cole, PhD, MPH, has been named director of the University of Pittsburgh Health Policy Institute’s Medicaid Research Center (MRC).

Dr. Cole, a research associate professor of Health Policy and Management at Pitt Public Health, has been research director at the center since 2015 and takes over for Julie M. Donohue, PhD, who has served as director since the center’s founding nine years ago.

 “I’m honored to be given the responsibility of leading the university’s research on the Medicaid program to support the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS),” said Dr. Cole.

Before joining Pitt, Dr. Cole was associate director for Medicaid policy research at Georgia State University’s Georgia Health Policy Center and was a population health fellow at the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute focusing on Medicaid claims-based research for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

“Everette James and Julie Donohue have both been incredible mentors for me since I came to Pitt,” he said.  “Along with a fantastic team of faculty, clinicians, and staff, they have worked with DHS to build a center that is a national model for state-university research partnerships. I’m looking forward to continuing this important work to ultimately improve the health of Pennsylvania Medicaid enrollees.”

As the largest health insurance program by enrollment in the US, Medicaid covers 25 percent of Americans and accounts for more than $670 billion in health care spending annually. Medicaid insures many people from underserved populations and provides coverage for critical services and supports, including long-term care for older adults, mental health, maternal and child healthcare and services for people with disabilities.

The Medicaid Research Center has partnered with Pennsylvania DHS through an intergovernmental agreement since 2014. The MRC provides analytical support on issues ranging from monitoring and evaluating changes in health insurance coverage, access to care, the quality of care delivery and program efficiency and effectiveness.

Even though Dr. Donohue is transitioning away from the role of director, she will continue working with the MRC, now taking on the role of senior advisor, and continuing as chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Pitt’s School of Public Health.

“I’m very proud of the amazing team we’ve recruited and developed and am excited for Evan to lead the MRC at this important time for Medicaid programs,” said Dr. Donohue. “Research evidence is essential to informing policy and program administration that benefits the well-being of enrollees.”

-Mike Friend