Obama Picks Harvard’s Berwick for Medicare, Medicaid

President Barack Obama nominated Donald Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the main agency in the Department of Health and Human Services that administers the two health programs.

Berwick, 63, currently serves as president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and is a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.

The two government programs affect more than 100 million poor, elderly and disabled Americans. The nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

Berwick would be the first permanent administrator of the agency since physician Mark McClellan left that position in October 2006. He would play a central role in the department’s implementation of Obama’s recently enacted health-care legislation to cover 32 million uninsured Americans and make medicine more cost-effective.

“Dr. Berwick has dedicated his career to improving outcomes for patients and providing better care at lower cost,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. “That’s one of the core missions” facing the next administrator, the president said.

‘Leader in Health-Care Administration’

Berwick “is honored to be nominated and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement is gratified that a leader in health-care quality improvement has been recognized by the Obama administration,” Madge Kaplan, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s director of communications, said in a statement.

Berwick was vice chairman of the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force from 1990 to 1996, and was named by former President Bill Clinton to the Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health-Care Industry in 1997 and 1998.

He teaches pediatrics and health-care policy at his alma mater, Harvard University, and practices pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital and at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Berwick has published more than 130 scientific articles, books on health-care policy and is also a member of several editorial boards of medical journals.

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