Profile: Joshua M. Wiener, Senior Fellow, RTI International

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Joshua Wiener, Senior Fellow, RTI International
Joshua Wiener, Senior Fellow, RTI International
You may not know Josh Wiener, but if you're in long-term care you are probably familiar with his work. A researcher, he has helped influence thinking surrounding critical eldercare issues for more than 30 years.

“I'm proud to say there are not many topics in long-term care that I haven't spent some time thinking and working on,” says the affable Wiener. He's the senior fellow and program director of Aging, Disability, and Long-Term Care at the research organization RTI International in Washington, D.C.

The one-man think tank currently has his fingers in everything from MDS 3.0 to home- and community-based services (HCBS). He has a lot to say, particularly on the latter.

While the future of long-term care may be in HCBS, the government's investment in quality assurance has been minimal, he says.

“We can barely count the number of participants, let alone the quality of services being provided,” he laments.
If Wiener says it, you can probably believe it. 

“He's been one of the stalwarts in the long-term care discussion and the analysis of long-term care through the last three-and-a-half decades,” says Diane Rowland, executive director of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation's Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

Doug Kamerow, a chief scientist at RTI, calls him a “very distinguished researcher” who has fueled greater understanding.

Wiener considers his two books about long-term care financing as key contributions. (See  “Resume” at left.) The conclusions of both books are that, because of cost, private long-term care insurance will never be a major source of financing for long-term care.

His opinions have been shaped by years of working on issues concerning elderly, disabled people, Medicaid and health reform, and others. He had his first taste of long-term care in the summer of 1975, when he researched the relationship between the long-term care system and the mental health system in New York State. He ended up writing his doctoral thesis on the regulation of long-term care in Massachusetts.

While he, like many people in the field, stumbled into long-term care, research was not a foreign subject to him growing up. His father specialized in sex (yes, sex) research for the National Institute of Mental Health. His mother was a psychiatric social worker for Montgomery County, MD. He also has a sister.

Today, Wiener's family comprises his wife, Susan Klinger, who works for the mortgage lender Freddie Mac; and three children: Jeremy, 26, Noah, 23, and Michael, 20.

When not working 12-hour days, Wiener might be found in the kitchen, cooking some exotic cuisine. He also loves all kinds of music, from classical to Latin to African to opera.

A travel buff, he recently returned from a trip to Turkey. The family also has visited son Noah, who is teaching English in Vietnam.

While he is no-nonsense about work, Wiener also has a good sense of humor, his friends say. “A serious guy with an ironic streak,” Kamerow calls him.

And he certainly enjoys what he does.

“I think we all find our passion,” he says.

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Resume

1971

Receives B.A. in sociology from University of Chicago

1981
Earns Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University

1984
Senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, Economic Studies Program, Washington, D.C.

1988
Along with Alice M. Rivlin, Raymond J. Hanley and Denise A. Spence, writes “Caring For the Disabled Elderly: Who Will Pay?”

1994
Contributing author of “Sharing the Burden: Strategies for Public and Private Long-Term Care Insurance”

1996
Becomes principal research associate at The Urban Institute, Health Policy Center, Washington, D.C.

2003

Takes position as senior fellow and program director of Aging, Disability, and Long-Term Care at RTI International, Washington, D.C.