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Robert A. Berenson
Institute Fellow
Health Policy Center
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 Berenson joined Urban as an Institute fellow in 2003. In this position he conducts research and provides policy analysis primarily on health care delivery issues, particularly related to Medicare payment policy, pricing power in commercial insurance markets, and new forms of health delivery based on reinvigorated primary care practices.

In 2012, Berenson completed a three-year term on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the last two years as vice chair. From 1998 to 2000, he was in charge of Medicare payment policy and private health plan contracting in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Previously, he served as an assistant director of the White House Domestic Policy Staff under President Carter.

Berenson is a board-certified internist who practiced for 20 years, the last 12 years in a Washington, DC, group practice. While practicing he helped organize and manage a successful preferred provider organization serving the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. He is coauthor of The Managed Care Blues & How to Cure Them with Walter Zelman, and Medicare Payment Policy and the Shaping of U.S. Health Care, with Rick Mayes. He publishes frequently in numerous publications, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Health Affairs, New York Times, and New Republic.

Berenson is a graduate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, and on the faculty at the George Washington University School of Public Health.

Research Areas
Health and health care
Aging and retirement