Healthcare Business News
Dr. Georges Benjamin

Providers line up in support of Berwick

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: March 7, 2011 - 5:00 pm ET

The nation's healthcare providers continue to support the Obama administration's selection of Dr. Donald Berwick as CMS administrator, despite a letter last week from 42 Senate Republicans who asked the president to withdraw Berwick's nomination.

Representatives from the American Hospital Association, Medical Group Management Association, America's Health Insurance Plans and the American Public Health Association said they support Berwick's nomination to the post, which will require 60 Senate votes in the confirmation process. With 42 senators appealing that Berwick's name be withdrawn, that leaves only 58 senators before any confirmation hearings have been held.

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“We supported his initial nomination and we remain committed to supporting him,” said Pat Smith, senior vice president for government affairs at the MGMA. This year, the MGMA will take its lead from the administration to see what it does next, according to Smith. “If they decide not to push, then we'll see who's next,” he said.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the APHA, said the senators' claim that Berwick lacks adequate managerial skills is a “red herring.” He also said Berwick has as much experience in management as his predecessors Mark McClellan and Thomas Scully, both of whom were nominated in the previous Republican-led administration.

“CMS is a large organization and it's a complex organization, but it is more than an insurance agency,” Benjamin said Monday. “It's also a public health agency. It's also a quality and safety agency. It needs somebody who has a vision and the skills to pull that all together,” he continued. “I think Don is the guy to do it.”

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