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Berwick Saved By The Bell; Launches Innovation Center

Donald Berwick
Donald Berwick

Medicare chief Donald Berwick appeared to be headed for a verbal shellacking yesterday in his first testimony before the Senate Finance Committee. Republican members told Politico they had some very pointed questions for him about his feelings about Britain's health system and various aspects of federal health reform.

But NPR's Julie Rovner reports that it wasn't so bad. (The Web address of her post includes berwick-dodges-gop-brickbats. The headline on "The Hill" was "Berwick Fireworks Fizzle.") Some were left frustrated:

Republicans who had been breathing fire over Berwick just a few months ago, cooled it a little at Wednesday’s hearing. In fact, they spent much of their time complaining about how little time they had because of other scheduled Senate votes.

"Asking us to air all our concerns in an hour-long hearing with five minutes each is like asking us to drain the Pacific Ocean with a thimble," grumbled Utah Republican Orrin Hatch.

But they'll have other chances. He's expected to be called back to testify again — and again — and again...

Meanwhile, Dr. Berwick has launched the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Kaiser Health News reports.

Writing in his own blog on the center's Website, Dr. Berwick says that the new center will act quickly and focus on three areas:

The initial work of the Center will focus on three areas:

Better Care for People: Improving care for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors' offices, and developing ways to make care safer, more patient-centered, more efficient, more effective, more timely, and more equitable.
Coordinating Care to Improve Health Outcomes for Patients: Developing new models that make it easier for doctors and nurses and other caregivers to work together to care for a patient.
Community Care Models: Exploring steps to improve public health and make communities healthier and stronger by fighting the epidemics of obesity, smoking, and heart disease.

CommonHealth will keep you posted on which projects they fund locally.

This program aired on November 18, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth blog.

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