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Linda Blumberg

Linda Blumberg

Health economist and institute fellow | The Urban Institute | Class of 1986

Linda Blumberg is where she is today — a D.C.-based Urban Institute fellow and health economist — thanks in no small part to her favorite UI faculty member.

Here’s looking at you, Walt McMahon.

“My sophomore year, I took a history of medicine class, and the professor of that class told me to get some advice from Professor McMahon because I was working on a research paper about the history of the Medicare program,” says the economics major from the Class of 1986.

“Professor McMahon was extremely generous with his time, particularly since I’m certain he only taught grad students, and I was just an undergrad. As we chatted, I began asking him about his area of research.

"We talked quite a bit about his work related to recent reforms to the Medicare program’s payment system, and he introduced me to ideas for changing the way private insurance markets were structured to increase competition and reduce costs.

“I was fascinated, and he agreed to let me do some research assistant work for him. I learned, I became more interested in the field of health economics, and he introduced me to other well-known academics in the field when they visited.

“As a result of his sparking and nurturing of my interests, I changed my major to economics and took whatever health policy classes I could find. There weren’t many at the time.

“Eventually, he and others in the field who he had introduced me to, helped me get my first post-college job as a research assistant for a health economist in D.C., which ultimately led me to get a Ph.D. in economics and a career as a D.C. health economist.

“Without his generosity with his time, his encouragement and his guidance, I doubt I would have found my way to this career that has been incredibly fulfilling for me.”

As for a favorite Campustown spot, put Blumberg down for the late, great home of the ‘Brownie Under.’

“It was a little ice cream shop — Double Dipski — which was attached to the restaurant/bar Treno’s, and was a short walk from Allen Hall.

“My roommate, Carol Shukur, and I used to walk down there for frequent study breaks and get ‘Brownie Unders’ — hot fudge sundaes set on top of the most fabulous brownies. The height of decadence was getting one with a frosted brownie. It was sugar heaven.

“We would get them whatever the weather, including the dead of winter. It didn’t matter how bad the day had been — a Double Dipski Brownie Under would always take me to a happy place.”