Berwick Resigns Effective Dec 2nd

CMS Administrator Berwick to Leave

Dr. Donald Berwick resigns as the Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) effective December 2nd and the Senate once again proves if Obama nominates someone they won’t get appointed. After a Republican opposition, Obama appointed Berwick last July during a congressional recess giving him the job through the end of this year and the current session. Dr. Berwick is a respected member of the health care community and has had support from medical, trade, labor, and consumer organizations ranging from ACP, AARP, Walmart, Consumers Union, and the AHA. In his 18 months Berwick oversaw the beginning of the EHR Incentive program which has currently registered over 138,000, eligible professionals and  eligible hospitals and paid over $527 million in incentive payments. He leaves still believing in the focus of the agency’s three aims: improving the experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs of health care.

On Wednesday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Jamie Smith announced Berwick’s resignation and the impending nomination of Marilyn Tavenner, the current deputy administrator to replace him. Smith said “Don Berwick did outstanding work at CMS. It’s unfortunate that a small group of senators obstructed his nomination, putting political interests above the best interests of the American people.”

Marilyn Tavenner is currently the Principal Deputy Administrator and Chief Operating Officer for CMS. An RN with a 35 year health care career she was a hospital CEO and senior level management for Hospital Corporation of America after 20 years in nursing. Prior to joining CMS she was Virginia’s secretary of Health and Human Resources under the then Gov. Tim Kaine. Kaine has been quoted as saying “her private sector expertise helped her play an instrumental role in slashing Virginia’s infant mortality rate, transforming our foster care system and helping us ban smoking in state buildings, restaurants and bars. And, in a time of declining state revenues and a struggling economy, she helped reduce Medicaid costs in smart ways through program improvements, focus on preventive care and creative use of technology.”

So is there any hope for her nomination? I think the writing is on the wall. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the ranking Republican on the finance Committee as already made a statement on Ms. Tavenner. “Republicans on the Finance Committee look forward to examining her record and gaining an understanding of her views of Medicare, Medicaid and the president’s health law.” Is there a chance that Tavenner has never said a good or positive thing on the “president’s health law”? Is there a chance that a Republican will vote for someone who has?

Good Luck Marilyn!