Berwick, Blumenthal May Form Dream Team At CMS

Healthcare IT News: "If Donald Berwick, MD, is confirmed as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, he and David Blumenthal, MD, the national coordinator for health IT, would be a 'dream team' in pursuing a coherent national healthcare and health IT strategy. At least that's the assessment of Kerry Weems, who spent 25 years in senior roles at the Health and Human Services Department and was acting administrator of CMS from Sept. 2007 until the Obama administration took over. ... Berwick is a strong proponent of evidence-based medicine, while Blumenthal is leading the campaign to direct the use of health IT in ways that would yield scientifically relevant data on healthcare treatment and practices." The White House has confirmed at Berwick, "a Harvard health policy professor and a pediatrician," would be nominated "to take the reins of CMS. Berwick is also president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a not-for-profit organization that strives to improve healthcare quality worldwide" (4/2).

CQ HealthBeat: Berwick will face significant challenges if he does become the head of CMS. "Running the government's two big health programs, Medicare and Medicaid, has long required the right mix of bureaucratic savvy and real-world experience addressing medical errors, hospital infection rates and the cost of care. It's a balancing act that's about to get more challenging. The new health overhaul law gives the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services responsibility for launching a series of pilot programs and demonstrations geared toward improving the coordination of patient care, preventing diseases and improving quality. The role effectively makes CMS a lead innovator among the alphabet soup of federal agencies charged with reshaping the health system" (Bettelheim, 4/5).

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