Deborah Freund is a university professor in the School of Community & Global Health (SCGH) and in the Department of Economic Sciences (DPE) in the School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation (SSSPE). She is also an adjunct professor in the department of population health science at The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. In the past, she has served as the RAND Corporation’s O’Neill-Alcoa Chair of Policy Analysis; the president of Claremont Graduate University; the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs and distinguished professor of public administration and economics at Syracuse University; and the vice chancellor for academic affairs, dean of the faculties, and professor of public affairs, economics, and medicine at Indiana University. She served as executive director of the American Society of Health Economists from 2019-2020. Before she completed her PhD, she worked at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
She began her academic career as an assistant and associate professor in the departments of health policy and administration at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the department of economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was one of the first scholars to study Medicaid and is known for her research and evaluation of Medicaid managed care, and the outcomes and costs of total knee replacement. She wrote the Australian guidelines on pharmacoeconomics—legislation that determines national drug prices through cost-effectiveness analysis and setting a reference price—a practice that has spread across the world. She was on the team that designed the Medical Care Expenditures Panel Survey and was the principal investigator of the team that created the Fair Health Database.
Freund is the author of more than 100 refereed articles and chapters, two books, and has been on the editorial board of 10 journals and publishers. Her current interests are in Medicaid managed care, health disparities, the impact of the Medicaid expansion under the ACA, how COVID-19 has impacted access to care and insurance coverage, and vaccine hesitancy. For her research, she has received numerous grants and contracts, totaling over $50 million as principal investigator and another $50 million as a co-principal investigator or participant. Funding agencies have included CMS (formerly HCFA), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the New York State Health Foundation, AHRQ, NIH, NSF, and the states of Vermont and Ohio.
Freund has been a recipient of the Kershaw Prize, which is given to a scholar under the age of 40 by the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management; the J.S. Drotman Award from the American Public Health Association, which recognizes an individual younger than 30 who has challenged public health in a creative manner; and the Board of Trustees Award from the American Hospital Association. In the past, Freund has consulted for members of Congress, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), Cerner, and in several pharmaceutical companies.
Her current board service includes Cedars Sinai Health System, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the San Antonio Regional Hospital, and the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. Her previous board service includes the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), Excellus Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Med-America, and Academy Health and Tuition Plan. In the past, she also was a very active member of The American Public Health Association, where she chaired the medical care section. She also has served on many advisory boards including the Duke University Evaluation Hub, the Catalyst for Health Reform, and the dean’s advisory board for the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She served as chair of the American Hospital Association’s Board of Health Research and Education Trust, and the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA). Freund was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance in 2003.
She received a master’s degree in applied economics, a master of public health degree in medical care administration, and a PhD in economics from the University of Michigan.
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