Bloggers are reacting to reports that President Barack Obama will soon nominate Donald Berwick as the next director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, although some predict a tough nomination fight.
Chris Fleming of the Health Affairs Blog links to several articles and perspectives from Dr. Berwick published by the journal.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein is pleased by the choice: “Berwick is about as good a choice as you could hope for (indeed, the health-care community was excited when he was the rumored pick six months ago). As head of the IHI, he has been a pioneering advocate for quality improvements in health care. That’s an important distinction: He’s not a health-care economist whose main focus is cutting costs. He’s a health-care expert whose main focus is improving quality by reducing infections and complications and increasing the use of good evidence and best practices.”
The Health Care Blog’s Maggie Mahar profiles Berwick, saying, “Soft-spoken, and charismatic Berwick is as passionate as he is original. His style is colloquial, intimate, and ultimately absolutely riveting. He draws you into his vision, moving your mind from where it was to where it could be. Berwick isn’t just another ivory-tower philosopher. He’s ‘an extraordinary leader when it comes to inspiring people and creating the will to move forward,’ Dartmouth’s Dr. Elliot Fisher told me in a phone conversation Friday.”
Jaan Sidorov of the Disease Management Care Blog calls himself “a big fan of Dr. Berwick’s. Anyone who has done anything about health care quality, patient empowerment, systems of care, access disparities and health care value has certainly read his articles and heard him speak,” but Sidorov predicts a tough congressional hearing because Berwick has written extensively.
Time’s Karen Tumulty expresses a similar sentiment, saying, “I’m predicting a big fight–mostly, because pretty much everything is a big fight these days. But this is a job that needs to be filled, so it will be unfortunate if this nomination turns into a relitigation of the entire health care debate, rather than focusing on Berwick’s qualifications.”
Critical Condition’s Tevi Troy thinks the nomination’s timing is poor: “The Berwick choice itself is not very contentious. … But the timing is problematic. Berwick was reportedly slated to get this appointment well over a year ago. The Obama administration, however, held off on going forward until health care was done before making the announcement and pursuing the confirmation, presumably because they — and possibly Berwick, according to Politico — wanted to avoid another health battle while they were pursuing their overhaul bill. … While Berwick himself is not hugely controversial, the bitter feelings over the way health care was passed could lead Senate Republicans to delay his approval.”
Elsewhere bloggers are still looking at health overhaul legislation signed by Obama last week.
Colorado Health Insurance Insider’s Louise Norris, an insurance agent, notes that in the health overhaul bill “it would appear that rescission will still be legal in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation. Which is of course very subjective, since nobody other than the applicant really knows what the applicant’s intentions are.”
And John Goodman thinks the subsidies in the legislation will cause health spending to rise even higher: “Limiting health expenses to a fixed percent of family income, however, has one huge drawback: the required subsidies will not only grow through time, they will grow even faster than health care costs are growing!”