Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dr. Donald Berwick Resigns as Head of CMS

Donald Berwick, MD, a tireless advocate for patient safety in health care, has decided to resign his post as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), effective December 2. I am very sorry to see him go.

Dr. Berwick will have served only 17 months in the post. President Obama nominated Dr. Berwick, who was head of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, for the CMS post in April 2010, a move that was hailed by diverse groups such as the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, AARP, Walmart, and Consumers Union. Inspite ofthis broad based support, President Obama found that GOP opponents were blocking his Senate confirmation, as part of their all out strategy to stop health care reform. This caused the president to install Dr. Berwick as CMS administrator through a "pocket" appointment while the Senate was in recess, a special appointment that is set to expire by law at the end of 2011. Dr. Berwick was renominated in January 2011, but he still faced implacable opposition from Senate Republicans. His resignation, therefore, comes as no surprise.

According to news reports,  Dr. Berwick told the staff of the Department of Health and Human Services in an email, that he had "bittersweet emotions", and that although their work was challenging and incomplete, that "we are now well on our way to achieving a whole new level of security and quality for healthcare in America."

Amen. I hope so. Thank you, Dr. Berwick, for your leadership.

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