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Robert A. Berenson
Institute Fellow
Health Policy Center
  • Profile
  • Outside Affiliations
  • Although evidence-based policymaking seems to be in vogue—at least talked about a lot—for medicine and health care, public policy often is based on ideology, political expediency, or rosy scenarios not supported by evidence. Often the evidence is ‘cooked’ to support a particular point of view.
    The Urban Institute is one of the few organizations that not only produces important, objective evidence that can be used to support policy initiatives but also challenges conventional wisdom supported by slippery evidence. With the authority of Urban’s reputation for solid research and analysis, and the discipline embedded in its culture behind me, I am able to provide a (sometimes) listened-to, contrarian voice in current policy discussions on how to reform our current inefficient health care delivery system.

    Robert A. Berenson is an Institute fellow at the Urban Institute. He is an expert in health care policy, particularly Medicare, provider payment, and provider market consolidation, having authored or coauthored 100 publications. He has practiced medicine, has served in senior positions in two presidential administrations, and helped organize and manage a successful preferred provider organization (PPO).

    From 1998 to 2000, he was in charge of Medicare payment policy and managed-care contracting in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In the Carter administration, he served as an assistant director of the White House Domestic Policy staff. He served on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, or MedPAC, from 2009 to 2012, the last two years as vice chair. He was an initial member of the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. 

    Berenson is a board-certified internist who practiced for 12 years in a Washington, DC, group practice. He helped found and was co–medical director of National Capital PPO, a rental model PPO that served 150,000 people in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. With Walter Zelman, Berenson coauthored The Managed Care Blues and How to Cure Them, published in 1998, and with Rick Mayes he coauthored Medicare Prospective Payment and the Shaping of U.S. Health Care, published in 2008. He is an adjunct professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

    Berenson serves on the boards of Catalyst for Payment Reform and DCPCA (District of Columbia Primary Care Association).

    Research Areas
    Health and health care
    Aging and retirement

    Outside Affiliations
    DC Primary Care Association
    Board Director
    Catalyst for Payment Reform
    Board Member

    Urban experts are permitted and empowered to work and affiliate with outside organizations, whether serving on boards, volunteering their time, or providing advice and counsel. And Urban welcomes visiting scholars, nonresident or affiliated fellows who work for other organizations. These outside affiliations enrich our perspectives and our learning environment. We also require all paid and unpaid experts to disclose their affiliations to Urban leadership and follow rules governing their engagement to ensure transparency for audiences and independence of experts.