Donald Berwick (Temporarily) Appointed CMS Head

| Wed Jul. 7, 2010 9:23 AM PDT

Yesterday Barack Obama decided that the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services really couldn't go leaderless any longer, so instead of waiting fruitlessly for Senate Republicans while they obstructed his nominee for another few months he made a recess appointment. Donald Berwick is now the head of CMS.

And what do I think of Berwick? Who cares? I mean, what do I know about the guy? He seems to be a serious, well-respected wonk who's an expert on healthcare delivery and eminently qualified to run CMS, and I don't think the Senate should be wasting its time confirming positions like this anyway. It should just be a straight presidential appointment. But via Ezra Klein, Berwick wins my heart forever by making this #2 on his list of proposed hospital reforms:

Patients would determine what food they eat and what clothes they wear in hospitals

The rest of his reforms are pretty good too — though I guess I'm not sure how practical #5 is. In any case, sign me up as a Berwick fan!

And on a less lighthearted note, I repeat that he appears to be a serious, well-respected wonk who's an expert on healthcare delivery and eminently qualified to run CMS. It's way past time to put an end to the farcical regime of Senate confirmation that prevents the president from appointing a guy like this. Ezra:

If Berwick cannot find a smooth confirmation, then no industry leaders who are nominated in a time of political polarization can. And that'll mean, in the long run, that the best people will hang up the phone when they get that call from the White House, as they don't want to see their past quotes pulled out of context and picked apart, and they don't want to spend a year in limbo only to settle for a recess appointment, and they won't be under any illusions that respect from both sides of the aisle and an unimpeachable record will be armor enough.

Roger that.

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