Intended for healthcare professionals


Robert Derzon

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 01 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3531
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne

    Health administrator who united US insurance programmes for elderly and poor people

    “Bob was a person who believed very deeply in social justice. He thought the person at the bottom of the ladder should be treated the same as the person at the top,” says Larry Lewin, founder of the Lewin Consulting Group, with whom Derzon worked as a consultant for 12 years after he left government. “He was very tough. He was very fair. He was very charming. He was a short man who stood tall,” Lewin says.

    In 1977 President Jimmy Carter invited Derzon, an experienced health administrator, to Washington, DC, with the task of blending two separate federal agencies: Medicare and Medicaid. These agencies are now combined in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    Different cultures

    The two programmes had different cultures, says Karen Davis, now president of the Commonwealth Fund in New York, who was a colleague of Derzon when …

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