Cheryl L. Damberg

Director, RAND Center of Excellence on Health System Performance; Distinguished Chair in Health Care Payment Policy
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

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Cheryl Damberg is the Distinguished Chair in Health Care Payment Policy and a principal senior researcher 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.

As a national leader in value-based purchasing and application of performance measures, she has examined the effects of payment reforms, identified strategies to minimize unintended consequences associated with value-based payment, and worked to apply social risk factor adjustments to improve the validity of measures to compare provider performance. Damberg testified before Congress regarding how to include pay for performance into revisions to Medicare physician payments which informed the development of MACRA.

She is director of RAND's Center of Excellence on Health System Performance which characterizes and studies health systems 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, a senior consultant to Fortune 100 firms for the MEDSTAT Group, and a research 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
  • Identified HIT-sensitive measures to assess cost savings and efficiency gains from implementation of electronic health records and health information exchange
  • 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

Selected Publications

Damberg, CL., M Silverman, L Burgette, ME Vaiana, MS Ridgely. , "The Response of Physician Organizations to Value-Based Incentives to Improve Quality and Reduce Total Costs of Care," American Journal of Managed Care , 2018 (forthcoming)

Sorbero, M.E., SM Paddock, CL Damberg, A, Haas, and MN Elliott, "Impact of Adjusting for Socioeconomic Factors on Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Star Ratings," American Journal of Managed Care (in press) (forthcoming)

Rumball-Smith, J, P Shekelle and CL Damberg. , "Electronic health record ‘Super-users’ and ‘Under-users’ in U.S. ambulatory care practices. ," American Journal of Managed Care. 2018;24(1):26-31., 2018

Paddock, SM, CL Damberg, D Yanagihara, JL Adams, L Burgette, and JJ Escarce. , "What Role Does Efficiency Play in Understanding the Relationship between Cost and Quality in Physician Organizations? ," Medical Care, 55, 2017

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

Friedberg, MW, CL Damberg., "A Five-Point Checklist to Help Performance Reports Incentivize Improvement and Effectively Guide Patients," Health Affairs, 31(3), 2012

Damberg, CL., SM Shortell, K Raube, RR Gillies, D. Rittenhouse, R McCurdy, LP Casalino, J Adams., "Relationship between Quality Improvement Processes and Clinical Performance," American Journal of Managed Care, 16(8), 2010

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
  • Academy Health 2010 Best Theme Abstract (Pay-for-performance): Assessing Unintended Consequences in Pay for Performance (2010), Academy Health
  • Health Services Research John M. Eisenberg Article-of-the-Year Award (2008), Health Services Research