Theo Merkel is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, focusing on improving the sustainability of U.S. entitlement programs, the effectiveness of our safety net, the international competitiveness of U.S. industry, the balance between the federal government and the states, and the transition from policy development to implementation.
Previously, Merkel served as special assistant to the president for economic policy at the National Economic Council in the White House (2019–20). During his time in the Executive Branch, Merkel oversaw several key presidential initiatives to improve competition, efficiency, and access in health care, including Executive Order 13877, “Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First.”
Merkel also served for a decade in a variety of roles for his home state senator, Pat Toomey (R-PA), most recently as legislative director. Merkel directed policy and research on the then-most-expensive Congressional campaign in history in 2016; he advised on health care and entitlement reform; and oversaw Toomey’s legislative agenda in 2021 and 2022.
Merkel is also the director of the Private Health Reform Initiative and a senior research fellow at the Paragon Health Institute.
A native of Carbon County, Pennsylvania, Merkel received a BA in political science from Johns Hopkins University and lives in Washington, D.C.