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Q&A: Donald Berwick Calls for 'Moral' Approach to Healthcare

News  |  By Tinker Ready  
   September 20, 2016

The former head of CMS advocates for a single-payer system and for bringing "pride and joy" to the workplace among physicians, nurses, administrators, and executives who are all involved in doing the work of caring.

This article was originally published on January 14, 2016. This is the second of two parts. Read part one.

When Donald Berwick, MD, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, was a candidate for the head of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, opponents seized on his admiration of Britain's National Health Service.


Donald Berwick, MD

In the second part of Berwick's interview with HealthLeaders, (read part one), he spoke about his support not just for the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, but for a single-payer health system. Both, he says, recognize health as a right and represent a needed "moral" approach to care. He also calls for a push to bring "pride and joy" to the workplace. The transcript of the interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

HLM: Do you think the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will lead to quality improvements?

Berwick: I think it's a great step forward. [It's] not perfect, though. Part of the ACA is the insurance law. It's the attempt in our country to make healthcare a human right, to take a step in that direction. I thoroughly support it; I wish we could go further faster.

It's been productive and could be more productive. The decision to do this with private insurance systems was a political decision. We could have done it with an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid. But, we should be proud that the country is trying to make health a human right.

Donald Berwick on Better Care as a Route to Financial Success

I wish the Medicaid expansions were occurring in all states. I wish the exchanges had gone smoothly and had been more supported and had been more active in defending the rights of beneficiaries. But, all of those are improvements in a basically sound approach to improving healthcare coverage


Tinker Ready is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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