The New Health Dialogue

A Blog from New America's Health Policy Program

HEALTH REFORM: Berwick Confirmation Prospects?

Published:  March 29, 2010
Capitol Dome

I am officially not here today -- and I am (almost literally) elbow deep in matzoh balls and macaroons (home-made...hear that Ezra?). And I haven't read all of today's papers carefully enough to see if any Republicans are saying kind things about IHI president Don Berwick, who is being tapped to run Medicare and Medicaid as we get health reform underway. But I did hear from one well-placed Senate source, who is quite worried that this could be another knock-down drag it out Bunningesque confirmation fight. After all the Republican talk about saving Medicare, we sure hope they don't block the guy who can do it.

If this were about policy and clarity and vision and what's right for our country's health care system, Berwick should be greeted with bipartisan glee. Delivery system reform, after all, with its implicit linkage between quality improvement and cost-efficiency -- is not a partisan issue. Or rather, it should not be a partisan issue.

Since I'm in a bit of hurry with kids and spatulas underfoot, forgive me for ending this by repeating what I wrote about Berwick last week:

For anyone who doubts that the Obama administration is committed to saving Medicare, to delivery-system reform, to controlling costs by improving quality -- this is your answer.

For any of you who know of Berwick's visionary work in just one context (central line infections or LEAN efficiency or whatever aspect you've come across) spend some time browsing the IHI website. IHI is working, and thinking, and creating and visualizing across the health care spectrum. Inpatient and out. From the sick homeless veteran in the streets (and I'm posting on that soon) to the highest of high tech ICUs.

I hope the rumblings of a confirmation fight die down. Congress is out of town for two weeks. Perhaps they will come back to DC a bit mellower. And ready to do what's right.

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