KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

White House Officially Names Berwick As Pick To Head CMS

News organizations are reporting on President Barack Obama's official nomination of Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Wall Street Journal: "Berwick, president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass., and a pediatrician by trade, first emerged as President Barack Obama's choice for the position in late March. ... 'Dr. Berwick has dedicated his career to improving outcomes for patients and providing better care at lower cost," Obama said. "That's one of the core missions facing our next CMS Administrator, and I'm confident that Don will be an outstanding leader for the agency and the millions of Americans it serves'" (Yoest, 4/19).

BusinessWeek Bloomberg: "The two government programs affect more than 100 million poor, elderly and disabled Americans. The nomination is subject to Senate confirmation. Berwick would be the first permanent administrator of the agency since physician Mark McClellan left that position in October 2006. He would play a central role in the department's implementation of Obama's recently enacted health-care legislation to cover 32 million uninsured Americans and make medicine more cost-effective" (Chen, 4/19).

The Washington Post: "If confirmed by the Senate, Berwick will play a pivotal -- and challenging -- role in implementing the recently enacted health-care overhaul legislation. ... Berwick ... has never led such a large organization. As head of the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement, however, he is known for persuading doctors and hospitals to adopt innovative methods for reducing medical errors" Aizenman, 4/20).  

The New York Times: "He personifies Mr. Obama's determination to shake up the health care system. Working with numerous hospitals and clinics around the country, Dr. Berwick has shown that it is possible to reduce medical errors and improve the quality of care while reducing its cost. Representative Sander M. Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, described Dr. Berwick as 'visionary leader.' Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he looked forward to 'an expeditious review of the nomination" (Pear, 4/19).

Boston Globe: "Berwick's fans credit him with what they call innovative ideas to lower health care costs while maintaining quality care. That approach, supporters say, is critical in the next decade, when Medicare funding is set to be shrunk by $400 billion while Medicaid, the program for the poor and disabled, will undergo its biggest expansion in history." The American Medical Association "welcomed Berwick's nomination, calling the Harvard professor and pediatrician "widely known and well-respected for his visionary leadership efforts that focus on optimizing the quality and safety of patient care in hospitals and across health care settings. The AARP, a powerful seniors' lobby, also hailed the pick" (Milligan, 4/19).

Reuters: "He is likely to face a tough confirmation fight in the U.S. Senate, which was bitterly divided over the healthcare law. The massive reform passed despite near-unanimous opposition by congressional Republicans, many of whom have vowed to repeal it" (Zengerie, 4/19).

Related earlier KHN coverage, From The KHN Archives: Checking In With Dr. Donald Berwick, (Galewitz, 11/12). 

Kaiser Health News also summarized the earlier press coverage of Dr. Berwick's expected nomination, including reports about the challenges he will face at CMS and his interest in the U.S. health delivery system.    

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