Seven Health, Political Leaders Respond to Berwick's Nomination to Lead CMS

Janice Simmons, April 20, 2010

After several weeks of rumors and discussions, President Obama made it official on Monday and nominated Donald Berwick, MD, to be the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator—a position that has been unfilled for nearly 4 years.

Berwick is president and CEO of the Cambridge, MA-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.

In announcing the nomination, the President said that Berwick has dedicated his career "to improving outcomes for patients and providing better care at lower cost." He added, "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."

While Berwick is highly regarded in the healthcare community for his work addressing healthcare outcomes, value, lowered cost, and safety, he still could strong face opposition on Capitol Hill during confirmation hearings. Since the passage of healthcare reform legislation last month, some GOP members have pledged to hold up Obama nominees who would be responsible for implementing the new regulations.

Berwick will undergo close scrutiny, namely is he equipped to handle a vast federal agency that is about see to massive changes because of healthcare reform?

"This is always a big job, but the administration of healthcare reform, which includes implementing the hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts and the biggest expansion of Medicaid in its history, will make it more challenging than ever," wrote several weeks ago Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking minority member on the Senate Finance Committee.

Here's what other leaders throughout the healthcare and political communities are saying about Berwick's nomination:

Nancy H. Nielsen, MD
Immediate Past President
American Medical Association

"We welcome President Obama's nomination of Dr. Donald Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is 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 healthcare settings.

"The AMA has partnered with Dr. Berwick's Institute for Healthcare Improvement in many of those efforts. Upon confirmation, we look forward to working with Dr. Berwick at CMS on implementation of the new health reform law and on ensuring that physicians can continue to care for seniors who rely on Medicare."

Rich Umbdenstock
President and CEO
American Hospital Association
"The American Hospital Association applauds President Obama's choice of Donald Berwick, MD, as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Don is a true leader in healthcare quality improvement and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to CMS.

"Through his work at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Don has led a movement to engage hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers in the continuous quest to provide better, safer care. Hospitals willingly answered his call to join the 100,000 Lives Campaign, adopting techniques that improve quality of care.

"The tools and advice made available through IHI under his leadership have been used by hospitals and health caregivers around the world, and as a result, have touched the lives of thousands of patients.

"As the changes made by healthcare reform are put in place, we look forward to working with Don and the administration to continue finding new ways that hospitals can improve care for the patients and communities they serve."

John Rother
Executive Vice President

"The nomination of Dr. Berwick comes at an important time as the Administration begins implementing health reforms that add new benefits to Medicare while protecting the access of older Americans to their doctors and hospitals. Dr. Berwick's expertise on healthcare innovation and his dedication to quality improvement and patient safety would benefit the millions of low income and older Americans served by Medicare and Medicaid."
Janice Simmons Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at
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