A Pioneering Perspective: Dorothy Rice

Dorothy Rice is an internationally known medical economist and health statistician. As director of the National Center for Health Statistics, Rice played a major role in developing health and social programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Now retired, she makes her home at Piedmont Gardens in Oakland, Calif.

Q: You rose through the ranks of the federal government at a time when few women held executive-level positions. How did you do it?
If you were female and on the ball during World War II you did well. And I did very well. So it was a little bit timing, a lot of hard work.

Q: Your body of work is impressive. What are you most proud of having accomplished in your career?
I developed study methodology to determine the true cost of disease – you name a disease, I did a study on it – and that methodology is still being used today.

Q: How do you feel about the state of the nation today?
Oh, I’m an optimist. People say things were easier in my generation but they forget. Look, it’s all about your outlook. I’m very encouraged by this generation of young people. And I have great faith in our democracy.