Dr. Stephen Ondra

Adjunct Senior Fellow, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

Research Areas

Dr. Stephen Ondra is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

As senior vice president and enterprise chief medical officer of the Health Care Service Corporation, Dr. Ondra is responsible for the strategy and oversight of Health Care Service Corporation's medical policies, health care management, pharmacy, clinical analytics, as well as it’s quality improvement and performance measurement programs delivered by the Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. He also serves as a key national spokesperson for the company and health policy advocate for policyholders.

Before joining HCSC, Dr. Ondra was senior vice president and chief medical officer for Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Previously, he was appointed by President Obama as the senior policy advisor for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and then served in the Executive Office of the President. At the White House, Dr. Ondra was a Senior Advisor and the co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council for health information and technology in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.   He also served as one of the implementation deputies for the Affordable Care Act.

He is a recognized leader in health policy, information technology, patient safety and evidence-based medicine. Dr. Ondra is a veteran of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, and he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal and the Army Commendation Medal for his extraordinary service. After attending the U.S. Military Academy, he completed pre-medical studies at Illinois Wesleyan University and medical school at Rush Medical College in Chicago. He completed his neurosurgical training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 

His neurosurgical career included contributions to the fields of cerebrovascular and skull base surgery and was most notable for his work in the area of spine, spine oncology and spinal deformity surgery. Dr. Ondra made major contributions to the development of new surgical procedures, techniques, technology and concepts in spine surgery.  In addition to being a Professor of Neurological Surgery at Northwestern and served as Residency Program Director, Complex Spine Fellowship Director, Director of the Neuro-Spine ICU, and served as an interim Chair.  A member of the AANS and CNS, he was the first neurosurgeon elected to the prestigious Scoliosis Research Society. 

In addition to his surgical career, Dr. Ondra continued public service as the Chair of two scientific advisory boards in the Dept. of Defense and as a member of the Medical Coverage Advisory Committee at CMS/HHS.

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