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Donna Spencer

Senior Health Policy Researcher


PhD, Sociology, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
MA, Applied Social Research, West Virginia University
BA, Sociology/Art History, Juniata College


Dr. Donna Spencer is a senior researcher with more than 25 years of experience in public health, health policy, and health services research and program evaluation. Her work has focused particularly on Medicare and Medicaid payment and care delivery reform, access to health insurance and care, and the use of federal and state data sources to monitor and evaluate the impacts of health reform.

Currently, Dr. Spencer is Associate Project Director of the Federal Meta-Analysis Support project, a meta-evaluation of Medicaid section 1115 substance use disorder (SUD) and serious mental illness/serious emotional disorder (SMI/SED) demonstrations for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Dr. Spencer also is a senior contributor to an evaluation and meta-analysis of the CMS Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model, a multi-site demonstration focused on connecting Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries with health-related social needs to community resources. Dr. Spencer also recently co-authored two reports on federal and state initiatives to expand Medicaid coverage and services to individuals involved in the criminal-legal system.

Dr. Spencer worked at RTI International early in her research career and rejoined RTI in 2022. Prior to returning to RTI, she conducted research at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), Optum Labs, and the Lewin Group. Her work has been published in JAMA Neurology, Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, Health Services Research, among other journals.

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