BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Over $600,000 in Medicaid dollars are headed to the LSU Health Sciences Center and Pennington Biomedical Research Center for medical research projects.

The Louisiana Department of Health says $673,211 will be going to both facilities for research dedicated to addressing Medicaid priorities. Priorities include improving maternal and neonatal outcomes, improving early childhood health and development, reducing deaths and illness with a focus on preventative care, improving mental health and substance use outcomes, and improving health equity, according to LDH.

“Leveraging the expertise of public universities and colleges to inform Louisiana Medicaid policy and program operations will help LDH better understand and improve the outcomes and the cost-effectiveness of covered services,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney N. Phillips. “In turn, the public universities and colleges benefit from a partnership with LDH through federal funding, new opportunities for students and junior researchers, and access to real-world data to maximize the impact of their research.”

State health officials said the funds are part of LDH’s Public University Partnership Program (PUPP).

According to LDH, LSU Health’s two projects focus on Louisiana Medicaid members and Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s two projects focus on researching diabetes in Medicaid members.

“This outstanding partnership between LSU Health-New Orleans’ Center for Healthcare Value and Equity and the Louisiana Department of Health will inform evidence-based policy solutions and advances in access to high quality of care for Medicaid members. Our PROUD project (Promoting Resilience among Medicaid Members with Opioid Use Disorder) will foster new approaches to tackle the opioid epidemic in Louisiana – one of the state’s and nation’s most urgent priorities for population health and health equity,” said LSU Health Sciences Center’s Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine Dr. Benjamin Springgate.

“Our objective in this collaboration with LDH is to identify feasible, actionable opportunities to improve health outcomes in Louisiana and, in particular, to identify and act on those opportunities that will reduce the significant outcomes disparities in the Louisiana population,” said Dr. Ronald Horswell, associate professor of research, population and public health, at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.