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Obama Makes Don Berwick Head of CMS

In a slick move, President Obama appointed Donald Berwick, a pediatrician, to the top post at CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid).  I am happy about this because Dr. Berwick is eminently qualified and has been a leader in the quality and safety movement and patient protection for decades.   With his focus on quality and his passion for improving health care, he is the right person at this time to lead CMS.  He has been endorsed by the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Catholic Health Association, AARP,  the AMA and the American Association of Family Physicians.  He is non partisan and three former directors of CMS (who served under Republican presidents) support him.

Why did Obama appoint him, rather than take him through the confirmation process?  It is because the Republicans vowed to block his nomination through extended hearings and use politics to keep him out.  Medicare has been leaderless since 2006 and urgently needs reform.  Medicare is a mess and must be fixed before health care reform can occur.

Yes, Berwick is a proponent of health regulations that "weigh public welfare against the choices of private consumers".   Those are fighting words to those who are against health reform and who are happy with the status quo.  Don Berwick doesn't sugar coat the problems our nation is facing and he believes in a system where decisions are transparent - and the people who make them are accountable. 

That sounds pretty good to me.


I don't envy Berwick. Every decision and recommendation he makes will make folks mad. I hope that his hide is as thick as an elephant's. I hope that he will be more effective than he will be popular.
Funny how one president can make a recess appt. and get roasted while another gets applauded. I'm not taking party sides here, just an interesting observation.

I agree, we need someone willing to ask the tough questions, direct the national conversation and then expect and sort through what is and isn't appropriate.

One thing I think we all agree is missing by the recess appt. is the discovery process which would expose those "disclosures" which might influence his decision and policy making.

Lets hope for the best.
"Guppy" Honaker said…
Everything Obama does is "slick." But I agree, Dr. Berwick will be a good appointee.

- David

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Holistic Health Info.
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Have Myelin? said…
I am against recess appointments no matter what the party. The end results do not justify the means IMO.

I'm also on Medicaid and I HATE IT. I thought Medicare was bad enough. We're the gophers of the economy, I knowwwww....!

P.S. I like your blog. =)
James Nicholas said…
Commemorating 60 years of England's National Health Service in July of 2008, Dr. Berwick gave broad praise to the institution, attributing to it virtue for being a means by which wealth is taken from one group of people and given to another:

“... sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker. And that any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must—must--redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional. Britain, you chose well.”

What Dr. Berwick was speaking of is called theft. Legalized theft, but theft all the same. For a physician to believe he is in the business of re-distributing wealth is for him to totally lose sight of his duty.

And Dr. Kirsch, the decisions Dr. Berwick's makes will make not make everyone mad, just those that are relying on the CMS for their medical care.
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