Joseph Betancourt tapped as new president of the Commonwealth Fund

Joseph Betancourt, M.D., has been named the next president of the Commonwealth Fund. He will assume the role as head of the national philanthropic organization Jan. 17.

Betancourt currently holds the position of senior vice president for equity and community health at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Presently, he oversees the hospital’s center for diversity and inclusion, disparities solutions center, center for community health improvement and centers focused on gun violence prevention, community health innovation, immigrant health and global health.

“It is an honor and privilege to lead an organization that has meant so much to me personally and to so many Americans over more than a century,” Betancourt said in a press release. “Twenty-five years ago, the Commonwealth Fund propelled me into what has become an unimaginable journey in health care, and I am humbled beyond words to be given the opportunity to lead this critically important organization into the future, always remembering that our goal is to ensure access to high-quality, affordable health care, for all.”

Betancourt will bring experience as the former lead of Mass General Brigham system’s COVID equity and community health response, vice president and chief equity and inclusion officer at MGH and director and founder of its disparities solutions center.

He was at the forefront of the MGH's multicultural education mission within the center for diversity and inclusion. He will be the first Latino person to assume the role of president of the Commonwealth Fund.

After earning his M.D. at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and completing an internal medicine residency at New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center, he became a member of the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Policy at Harvard University. Through the program, he added an M.P.H. to his credentials with a concentration in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Currently, he is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. His work as a board-certified internist focuses on Spanish-speaking and minority populations.

“The Commonwealth Fund’s work is characterized by equity, science and rigor, and nonpartisanship,” Betancourt said. “As we know, solutions can emerge from any and all directions, and we will seek to partner with all who share the commitment to improve the health, health care, and well-being of all communities. We will find the solutions to health care’s pressing challenges together.”

David Blumenthal, M.D., preceded Betancourt in the role. His tenure in the position began in 2013. Blumenthal announced in May that he would be stepping down at the end of 2022.

During his time in the role, he headed several initiatives to address racial and ethnic disparities across healthcare, including the expansion of healthcare coverage and access.

Before assuming the role, Blumenthal was a practicing primary care physician and professor of medicine and healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School and MGH as well as the chief health information and innovation officer of Mass General Brigham.

Furthermore, he was appointed as the U.S. national coordinator for health information technology under the Obama administration.

“I’m excited to welcome Joe Betancourt to the Commonwealth Fund,” Blumenthal said in a press release. “Knowing Joe and his work, I also know he will bring to this role deep experience in disparities-reduction and equity, as well as a passion for improving the health of all Americans. His integrity, values and exemplary leadership skills will serve the Commonwealth Fund well at a critical point in our history.”

Betancourt has authored almost 80 peer-reviewed articles along with several books. Many of his works focus on cultural competence and racial or ethnic disparities in healthcare. In the public sphere, he served on committees to provide advice to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

He served as principal or co-principal investigator on grants from the CMS. He has also been a co-investigator on projects funded by the National Cancer Institute and the HRSA.

The Commonwealth Fund was founded in 1918 with the goal of expanding health equity. The organization maintains a wide array of programs, fellowships and research projects while also providing healthcare tools and data resources. 

The organization's four main areas of focus are achieving universal coverage, controlling healthcare costs, advancing health equity and improving healthcare quality. Its newest programs include public health, behavioral health and climate change and healthcare.