Lanhee J. Chen

David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow
Research Team: 

Lanhee J. Chen, Ph.D. is the David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution; Director of Domestic Policy Studies and Lecturer in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University; and an affiliate of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.  His current research focuses on health policy, retirement security policy, campaigns and elections, and California policy and politics.  Specifically, Chen’s work in health policy has focused on Medicare, Medicaid, ERISA, and the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on states, private enterprises, and all parts of the health care economy.   

Chen is a presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed member of the Social Security Advisory Board—an independent, bipartisan panel that advises the president, Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters related to the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs.

A veteran of several high-profile political campaigns, Chen has also served in government, the private sector, and academia.  He currently advises the presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio and in 2014 was Senior Adviser on Policy to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

Chen was the policy director for the Romney-Ryan 2012 presidential campaign, as well as Governor Romney’s chief policy adviser; a senior strategist on the campaign; and the person responsible for developing the campaign’s domestic and foreign policy. He advised Romney on every major public policy challenge facing the United States and worked with a variety of stakeholders, including the congressional leadership, industry and business interests, and policy experts, to shape the campaign’s issues agenda.

Chen also served as the deputy campaign manager and policy director of Steve Poizner’s 2010 California gubernatorial campaign, the domestic policy director of Governor Romney’s first presidential bid in 2008, and a health policy adviser to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign in 2004.

In the Bush administration, Chen was a senior official at the US Department of Health and Human Services. His private-sector experience includes having been an associate attorney with the international law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, where he practiced business litigation. Chen was also the Winnie Neubauer Visiting Fellow in Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation and worked as a health policy advocate for a major business group in Washington, DC.

At Stanford, Chen currently serves as a member of the Faculty Steering Committee at the Haas Center for Public Service.  He has also been Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School.  An eight-time winner of Harvard University’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Chen’s scholarship has appeared or been cited in several of the nation’s top political science journals.

In 2015, Chen was honored as one of the POLITICO 50, a list of the “thinkers, doers, and visionaries transforming American politics.”  He earned a similar honor in 2012 when he was named one of POLITICO’s “50 Politicos to Watch.”  Chen’s writings have appeared in a variety of outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and Bloomberg View.  He frequently provides commentary on television networks including CNBC, CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC.

Chen frequently provides advice to companies and governmental entities on a wide range of contemporary public policy issues and is the founder and president of Launch Policy Strategies, a strategic consulting company.  He is also Counsel at the law firm of Arent Fox LLP and a member of both the International Advisory Council and the Health Advisory Board at APCO Worldwide, an international public affairs and communications firm.

Chen also serves in a variety of leadership roles in nonprofits and community-based organizations.  He is a Director of El Camino Hospital in the Silicon Valley, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Junior Statesmen Foundation and is on the Advisory Board of the Partnership for the Future of Medicare. Chen was recently elected to membership in the Committee of 100, an organization of prominent Chinese Americans.

Chen earned his Ph.D. and A.M. in political science from Harvard University, his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School, and his A.B. magna cum laude in government from Harvard College. He is a member of the State Bar of California.

A native of Rowland Heights, California, he currently lives in the Bay Area with his wife and children.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

How To Fix The Backlog Of Disability Claims

by Henry Aaron, Lanhee J. Chenvia Politico
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The American people deserve to have a federal government that is both responsive and effective. That simply isn’t the case for more than 1 million people who are awaiting the adjudication of their applications for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.


Instead Of ObamaCare: Giving Health-Care Power To The People

by Lanhee J. Chen, James C. Caprettavia Wall Street Journal
Friday, January 22, 2016
The next president can replace the Affordable Care Act and focus on consumer choice. Here’s how.
Analysis and Commentary

What Foes Get Wrong About Plan To Lower Health Costs

by Lanhee J. Chenvia CNN
Sunday, September 13, 2015

Presidential campaigns can be hesitant to put out policy proposals because these ideas are easily caricatured and attacked by political opponents. So, it takes some real courage to put plans in front of the electorate.


Undoing The Unilateral Presidency

by Lanhee J. Chenvia The Wall Street Journal
Monday, August 31, 2015

Obama’s executive orders can be reversed easily, but he has imposed his policies in many other hard-to-stop ways.

Analysis and Commentary

‘Crazy’ Candidates Help Start Important Policy Debates

by Lanhee J. Chenvia The New York Times
Monday, August 3, 2015

There can often be some overlap between a “crazy” candidate and one who happens to be highly effective at gaining both media attention and popularity in the polls.This should teach us, as well as the candidates in the 2016 presidential campaign, a few things.

Analysis and Commentary

GOP Candidates Must Offer Obamacare Alternative

by Lanhee J. Chenvia Real Clear Politics
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Despite the Supreme Court’s recent decision in King v. Burwell and President Obama’s pronouncement that the debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is over, health care reform will be a major topic of discussion in the 2016 presidential campaign.


Lanhee Chen Hosts The Hugh Hewitt Show (Part 2)

by Lanhee J. Cheninterview with John H. Cochrane , Kori Schakevia Hugh Hewitt Show
Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hoover Institution fellow Lanhee Chen, fills in for Hugh Hewitt: This hour, talking with Carl Cameron, Fox News chief political correspondent, Dr. John H. Cochrane, The Grumpy Economist blogger, Kori Schake, Hoover Institution research fellow, and James Lileks, humorist and columnist.


Lanhee Chen Hosts The Hugh Hewitt Show (Part 1)

by Lanhee J. Chenvia Hugh Hewitt Show
Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hoover Institution fellow Lanhee Chen, fills in for Hugh Hewitt: This hour, talking with Mark Steyn, Columnist to The World, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and Reince Priebus, RNC chairman.

Healthcare warning
Analysis and Commentary

A Market-Based Contingency Plan For King V. Burwell

by Lanhee J. Chen, James C. Capretta, Yuval Levin, Ramesh Ponnuru, Joseph Antos, Thomas Miller, Avik Roy, Gail R. Wilensky, David Wilsonvia Health Affairs
Monday, June 15, 2015

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the King v. Burwell case, Congress will have the opportunity to advance health care policies that expand consumer choice, increase coverage, deliver better value for the dollar, and allow state governments more say over health care policy.

GOP Image
Analysis and Commentary

Remember ‘Reconciliation’? The GOP Can Move An Agenda Without Democratic Support

by Lanhee J. Chen, James C. Caprettavia National Review
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Congressional Republicans are engaged in an important internal discussion over how best to use the arcane procedural mechanism known as “budget reconciliation.” Making the right decision about how to employ reconciliation could be the difference between a successful start to a conservative policy revival, or a lost year.