Berwick Nomination Gets Two Thumbs Up

Donald M. Berwick, MD, is President Obama’s nominee for administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and certainly no stranger to the readers of MANAGED CARE. We have interviewed him many times over the years. In a long Q&A in 1999, Berwick — the president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement — offered some insight into what he considers the best in managed care, specifically citing, among other insurers, Kaiser Permanente and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

He told us back then: “In our work in the institute, we are always looking for the best we can find. We search the country and the world for the best care of back pain we can find, the best asthma care, the best intensive care units or the best obstetrical management. It is exceedingly rare that, after picking a topic and searching hard, we don’t end up with some of the famous and important managed care systems in the country on our list of the best we can find. I think it’s no accident. I think they’re the places that had the leadership and information and systems. The best of managed care is often the best we have.”

And we believe that the best of our health insurers and administrators still have top-flight leadership and information and systems.

Berwick faces a tough confirmation hearing because some Republicans believe that he favors rationing.

Two of our editorial board members give Berwick high marks:

“Donald Berwick is without question one of the most respected leaders in health care in the United States and the world,” says Thomas Bodenheimer MD, professor of family and community medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. “He changed the entire paradigm of quality improvement with a New England Journal of Medicine article about 20 years ago, arguing that many medical errors are the result of system dysfunction rather than individual failings.”

Richard Stefanacci, DO, the director of the geriatric health program and Center for Medicare Medication Management at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, says that he has “always appreciated having a physician in the lead at CMS. I’m sure that he will surround himself by special advisers with geriatric expertise, since his training is at the other end of the spectrum.”

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