Cheryl L. Damberg

Director, RAND Center of Excellence on Health System Performance; Distinguished Chair in Health Care Payment Policy; Principal Senior Economist
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in public policy and economics, Pardee RAND Graduate School; M.P.H. in health education, population planning, University of Michigan School of Public Health; B.S. in zoology, natural science, Michigan State University

Media Resources

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Cheryl Damberg is director of the RAND Center of Excellence on Health System Performance, distinguished chair in Health Care Payment Policy, and a principal senior economist at the RAND Corporation. Her research explores the impact of strategies to drive cost and quality improvements in health care and how providers are redesigning health care delivery in response to new payment models and increased accountability. She has worked to strengthen the design of value-based payment schemes, with particular focus on addressing disparities through improving measurement by accounting for social risk factors and building measures of health equity.  

She is an international expert in pay for performance and value-based payment reforms and has advised Congress, federal agencies, the UK National Health Service, and the governments of Germany and South Korea on embedding performance-based incentives into provider payments schemes. She testified before Congress regarding how to revise Medicare physician payments to include value-based payment elements. In 2022, she was appointed a commissioner to MedPAC.

Damberg directs the RAND Center of Excellence on Health System Performance which characterizes and studies health systems, explores the effects of consolidation, and identifies the attributes of health systems associated with high performance. She leads a team working with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to generate Medicare Advantage Star Ratings. 

She previously served as director of research for the Pacific Business Group on Health, where she led early efforts to measure provider quality and report comparative performance results to consumers, and as a senior consultant to Fortune 100 firms for the MEDSTAT Group, and fellow in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She holds a Ph.D. in public policy from the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an M.P.H from the University of Michigan.  

Previous Positions

Director of Research, Pacific Business Group on Health; Senior Consultant, The Medstat Group; Research Fellow, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Recent Projects

  • Analyses to enhance the Medicare STAR rating program used to determine quality-based payments for Medicare Advantage plans
  • Assessing the impact of disparities in care within pay-for-performance programs
  • Application of episodes of care for payment and performance measurement
  • Developed a congressionally mandated plan for value-based purchasing within Medicare hospital services
  • Medicare Advantage and Part D plan Disenrollment Survey

Selected Publications

Damberg, CL and Elliott, MN., "Opportunities to Address Health Disparities in Performance-based Accountability and Payment Programs," JAMA Health Forum., 2021

Whaley CM, Zhao, X, Richards MR, Damberg CL, "Higher Medicare spending on imaging and lab services after physician practice vertical integration. ," Health Aff., 2021

Agniel D, Haviland A, Shekelle P, Scherling A, Damberg CL, "Distinguishing high-performing health systems using a composite of publicly reported measures of ambulatory care. ," Ann Intern Med, 2021

Mafi, JN, Reid RO, Baseman LH, Hickey S, Totten M, Agniel D, Fendrick AM, Sarkisian, C, Damberg CL, "Trends in low-value health service utilization and spending in the U.S. Medicare Fee-For-Service Program, 2014-2018.," JAMA Network Open. , 2021

Damberg, CL., M Silverman, L Burgette, ME Vaiana, MS Ridgely., "Are value-based incentives driving behavior change to improve value?" American Journal of Managed Care , 2019

Sorbero ME, Paddock SM, Damberg CL, Haas A, Kommareddi M, Tolpadi A, Mathews M, Elliott MN, "Adjusting Medicare Advantage Star Ratings for socioeconomic status and disability.," Am J Manag Care , 2018 (forthcoming)

Timbie, JW, A Bogart, CL Damberg, MN Elliott, A Haas, SJ Gaillot, EH Goldstein, SM Paddock., " Medicare Advantage and Fee-for-Service Performance on Clinical Quality and Patient Experience Measures: Comparisons from Three Large States. ," Health Services Research. , (DOI: 10.11), 2017

Methrotra, A, M.E. Sorbero, and CL Damberg, "Using the Lessons of Behavioral Exonomics to Design More Effective Pay-for-Performance Programs," American Journal of Managed Care, 16(7), 2010

Honors & Awards

  • RAND Gold Medal Award (2012, 2009, and 2006), RAND
  • Health Services Research John M. Eisenberg Article-of-the-Year Award (2008), Health Services Research
  • Article of the year 2021, Medical Care Research and Review

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Tradeoffs