“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,” he said in statement released over the weekend. “The Finance Committee vetting will need to explore the nominee's preparedness for the enormous challenges that face the agency.”
It remains unclear when the nomination will be made official. While Berwick's name had come up in discussion before, it became clear that the White House did not plan to announce a nominee for the administrator's post until after the health reform bills cleared the House and Senate. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the final piece of the reform package into law on Tuesday. But anger by Republicans over the reform process and a number of so-called “recess appointments,” however, could work against any of Obama's health nominees.
Still, provider groups familiar with Berwick's work at the Cambridge, Mass.-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement lauded the choice.
Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, in a statement called Berwick “a true leader in healthcare quality improvement,” adding that he would bring “a wealth of knowledge and experience to CMS.”
The American Medical Association was also supportive.
“Dr. Berwick 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,” said Nancy Nielsen, AMA immediate past president, in a written statement. “The AMA partnered with Dr. Berwick's Institute for Healthcare Improvement in many of those efforts, and we look forward to working with him at CMS on implementation of the new health reform law and on ensuring that physicians can keep caring for seniors who rely on Medicare.”
Larry Wellikson, CEO of the Society of Hospital Medicine, in a statement called Berwick a “tireless advocate of the hospitalized patient.”
Berwick, 63, made $637,006 in 2008, with another $127,327 in contributions to employee benefits plans, according to the IHI's federal tax filing. The top CMS post pays considerably less, from $118,000 to $177,000.
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