Lanhee J. Chen

David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow
Research Team: 

Lanhee J. Chen, PhD, 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; lecturer in law at Stanford Law School; and an affiliate of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford.  His current research focuses on health policy, retirement security policy, campaigns and elections, and California policy and politics.   

Chen was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as a 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, he has also served in government, the private sector, and academia.  Most recently, he was the senior adviser on policy to the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2014 election.  He frequently provides policy and political commentary on television networks including Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC.

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. In 2012, he was named one of Politico’s “50 Politicos to Watch.”

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.

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.

Chen currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Junior Statesmen Foundation and on the Advisory Board of the Partnership for the Future of Medicare.  He is a member of the Committee of 100, a membership organization of prominent Chinese Americans.  Chen is also a senior adviser and member of both the International Advisory Council and the Health Advisory Board at APCO Worldwide, a public affairs, communications, and business strategy firm.

Chen earned his PhD and AM in political science from Harvard University, his JD cum laude from Harvard Law School, and his AB 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


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.

Lanhee Chen
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Hoover fellow Lanhee J. Chen on the road ahead for Obamacare: speed bumps, massive potholes, or smooth sailing?

by Lanhee J. Chenvia Fellow Talks
Friday, May 8, 2015

The road ahead for Obamacare: speed bumps, massive potholes, or smooth sailing?

Hillary Clinton
Analysis and Commentary

Hillary Clinton: Three Big, Unanswered Questions From Democrat's Campaign Launch

by Lanhee J. Chenvia Fox News
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hillary Clinton launched her campaign for president over two weeks ago, and there remain three major unanswered questions about her latest bid for the presidency.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Not 50 Different Affordable Health-Care Plans?

by Lanhee J. Chenvia Wall Street Journal
Thursday, March 12, 2015

An obscure provision in the ObamaCare law says states can enact more market-friendly reforms.