Press Releases

NYS Medicaid Director Announced as 2018 Commencement Speaker

New York State Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson
March 27, 2018

ACPHS President Greg Dewey has announced that Jason Helgerson, New York State Medicaid Director, will be the speaker at the College’s 138th commencement ceremony taking place May 12 at 1:00 pm at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

In addition to serving as Commencement speaker, he will receive an honorary degree from the College. A second honorary degree will be presented to Joe Gambino, CEO of Hometown Health Centers. 

“While the Affordable Care Act has expanded health care coverage to millions of people, far too many individuals still lack access to quality care. Through their respective positions, Jason and Joe have worked to address this issue so that all people may have opportunities to live healthier lives, particularly those from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Dr. Dewey. “Their commitment to serving medically underserved populations makes them excellent role models for our graduates, which is why we are excited to have them be part of our commencement ceremony and to recognize them for their contributions.”

As New York State’s Medicaid Director, Mr. Helgerson has overseen the state’s $68-billion-a-year Medicaid program since 2011 (he will be stepping down from his position on April 6). His innovative approaches to reshaping the Medicaid program and his advocacy for a value-based approach to health care led Governing magazine to declare, “At a time when out-of-control health-care costs demand bold ideas and new thinking, Helgerson is leading the way.”

One of the best examples of his “bold ideas and new thinking” is the implementation of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program – an ambitious program that aims to reduce avoidable hospitalizations by 25 percent. Although the rollout of the DSRIP initiative is only halfway complete, it has already reduced avoidable hospital admissions by 15 percent, putting it on pace to exceed its goal. 

Mr. Helgerson previously served as Wisconsin’s Medicaid Director. In that capacity, he administered the state’s nationally recognized BadgerCare Plus program for children and families. Through this program, 98% of Wisconsin residents have access to affordable health care, including all children.

As CEO of Hometown Health Centers since 2009, Joe Gambino oversees one of the Capital Region’s top-rated medical and dental facilities. Hometown Health provides care to 20,000 children and adults at four health center sites in Schenectady and Amsterdam, including two school-based health centers. With pharmacy services so connected to healthcare, Mr. Gambino partnered with ACPHS President Greg Dewey and his team to bring College Hometown Pharmacy to Hometown Health Centers. The pharmacy, which successfully launched in 2016, is one of two student-operated pharmacies managed by the College. It is centrally located at Hometown’s main facility in Schenectady and services a large and growing medically underserved population. In addition to his work at Hometown Health Centers, Mr. Gambino also serves as the board chair at the Alliance for Better Health, a collaborative network of more than 2,000 providers and community-based organizations, developed through the DSRIP program, which is partnering to transform how health care is delivered in our region. 

About Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Founded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is a private, independent institution with a long tradition of academic and research excellence. The College is committed to educating the next generation of leaders in the health care professions and translating scientific discoveries into therapies that benefit humankind. In a study conducted by the Brookings Institution, ACPHS was named the #1 value-added college or university in the country. The College has campuses in Albany, NY and Colchester, VT.


Gil Chorbajian
Executive Director of Marketing and Communications
Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Work: (518) 694-7394  
Mobile: (518) 542-5532