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Gail Wilensky

Speaker, "Medicare and Medicaid: The Next 50 Years"

Gail R. Wilensky, Ph.D., is an economist and senior fellow at Project HOPE, an international health foundation. Wilensky directed the Medicare and Medicaid programs from 1990 to 1992, served in the White House as a senior adviser on health and welfare issues to President George H. W.  Bush, and served as the first chair of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission from 1997 to 2001. She will be one of the speakers at the Academy’s 27th annual policy research conference, Medicare and Medicaid: The Next 50 Years.

Wilensky currently serves as a trustee of the Combined Benefits Fund of the United Mine Workers of America and the National Opinion Research Center. She is also on the Board of Regents of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), the Visiting Committee of the Harvard Medical School, and the Board of Directors of the Geisinger Health System Foundation.  An elected member of Institute Of Medicine, she served two terms on its governing council, chairs the Healthcare Service Board and is currently a director of United Health Group, Quest Diagnostics and BrainScope. Wilensky frequently testifies before Congressional committees and speaks nationally and internationally on issues related to Medicare and Medicaid.

 “Gail has been a guiding force for national efforts related to long-term care delivery and finance reform.  She has lent her considerable expertise and leadership to building consensus regarding pragmatic and sustainable solutions to these challenging issues.” says Jonathan Westin, NASI member and Director of Health Policy at The Jewish Federations of North America. “Gail’s past is clearly prologue given her much sought after guidance as the nation seeks to find ways of strengthening the Medicare and Medicaid programs for generations to come.” 

A member of NASI since 1993, Wilensky participated in a 2002 Academy study panel titled, Matching Problems with Solutions: Improving Medicare's Governance and Management. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Michigan, and is the recipient of several honorary degrees. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Wilensky is a mad-cap traveler, a wine connoisseur, and a proud, adoring grandma to five grandchildren.