Gail Wilensky Profile

Economist Dr. Gail Wilensky is a Senior Fellow at the international health foundation Project HOPE. She has served in the White House as a senior adviser of health and welfare issues and directed the Medicaid and Medicare programs during President George W. Bush’s term. She was also first chair of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Dr. Wilensky’s career makes for an impressive resume, which includes current and past terms as a director of numerous nonprofit organizations and two public company boards. Her primary goals are to reform Medicare, military healthcare, and comparative effectiveness research.

Dr. Wilensky serves as a current trustee of the United Mine Workers of America’s Combined Benefit Fund as well as the National Opinion Research Center. She also serves on the Harvard Medical School Visiting Committee, the Board of Regents, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), and the Geisinger Health System Foundation Board of Directors.

Dr. Wilensky recently headed the Defense Health Board and was a member of the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Her astonishing accomplishments also include terms as co-chair of the Defense Department’s Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care and previous runs as chair of the Physician Payment Review Commission and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

Dr. Wilensky is a frequent contributor on The JAMA Forum on the news@JAMA website, which provides daily news about crucial developments regarding biomedical research, discoveries from major clinical trials, emerging public health threats, new developments in clinical medicine, and much more.

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      • GAIL WILENSKY is an economist and a senior fellow at Project HOPE, an international health education foundation. Among her appointments and assignments, Dr. Wilensky is the president of the Defense Health Board, a Federal advisory board to the Secretary of Defense, and also chairs the DHB Health Care Subcommittee. In addition, she serves as a trustee of the Combined Benefits Fund of the United Mineworkers of America and the National Opinion Research Center, is on the Board of Regents of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) and the Visiting Committee of Harvard Medical and Dental Schools. She recently served as a commissioner on the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health and co-chaired the Dept. of Defense Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care.

    She is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and has served two terms on its governing council. She is a former chair of the board of directors of Academy Health, a former trustee of the American Heart Association and a current or former director of numerous other non-profit organizations. She is also a director on several corporate boards.

    From 1990-1992, she was Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (now known as CMS), directing the Medicare and Medicaid programs. She also served as Deputy Assistant to President (GHW) Bush for Policy Development, advising him on health and welfare issues from 1992-1993.

    From 1997-2001, she chaired the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which advises Congress on payment and other issues relating to Medicare and previously chaired one of its predecessor commissions, the Physician Payment Review Commission. From 2001 to 2003, she co-chaired the President’s Task Force to Improve Health Care Delivery for Our Nation’s Veterans and in 2007, served as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors (Dole/Shalala Commission).

    Dr. Wilensky testifies frequently before Congressional committees, serves as an advisor to members of Congress and other elected officials, speaks nationally and internationally before professional, business and consumer groups. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Michigan and has received several honorary degrees.

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Gail Wilensky's Speech Descriptions

Dr. Gail Wilensky is one of the foremost experts on healthcare policy and the future of medicine. Her energetic and engaging lectures have been given to audiences around the world. Her general healthcare programs include topics ranging from health policy and politics to the future of Medicare. Her specialized healthcare topics include healthcare for the aging population, Washington’s healthcare agenda and what’s next in healthcare.


  • Health Policy and Politics
  • Future of Medicare
  • U.S. Healthcare Policy

Special Topics In Healthcare

  • What′s Ahead for Hospitals and Physicians
  • The Aging Population and What It Means for You
  • The Changing Healthcare Landscape/Environment
  • Washington′s Healthcare Agenda

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