Cheryl L. Damberg

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Distinguished Chair in Health Care Payment Policy; Senior Principal Researcher
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in public policy and health services research, 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 a principal policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and RAND Distinguished Chair in Health Care Payment Policy. She is a national expert in the areas of pay for performance (P4P) and value-based purchasing applications of performance measures, physician and hospital performance measurement, measures of cost-efficiency/resource use, and evaluating the effects of performance measurement systems and alternative payment models. She has twice provided Congressional testimony regarding repeal of the SGR and embedding P4P elements into Medicare payments for physicians (enacted with passage of MACRA). Damberg is leading a 5-year, $17.5 million AHRQ grant to study the evolution of health systems and identify factors that contribute to high performance and adoption of evidence-based practices. She is also leading a 5-year NIH-funded study to evaluate the impact of the Integrated Healthcare Association's statewide value-based P4P program and a CMS-funded project to conduct analyses to strengthen the Medicare STAR rating program used to determine quality-based payments for Medicare Advantage plans. Previously, Damberg served as director of research for the Pacific Business Group on Health, where she led early efforts to measure the quality of provider organizations and report comparative performance results to consumers, was a senior consultant to Fortune 100 firms for the MEDSTAT Group, and was a research fellow in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Damberg received her Ph.D. 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

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

Cheryl L. Damberg, Consumer-Directed Health Plans: Research on Implications for Health Care Quality and Cost, RAND Corporation (CT-249), 2005

D. Farley et al., Assessment of the National Patient Safety Initiative: Context and Baseline Evaluation Report 1, RAND Corporation (TR-203), 2004

Damberg, CL, Hyman, D, France, J., "Do public reports of provider performance make their data and methods available and accessible?" Medical Care Research and Review, 0, 2014 (forthcoming)

Ryan, AM, Damberg, CL., "What can the past of pay-for-performance tell us about the future of value-based purchasing in Medicare?" Health Care: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation, 1, 2013

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