Newton Doctor Takes Reins Of Medicare, Medicaid

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Dr. Donald Berwick
Dr. Donald Berwick

President Obama has again looked to the Boston area to fill a key post in Washington.

Only in this case, the idea seems to be to avoid the Senate grilling that greeted Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

With the Congress in recess, the president has appointed Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, programs that are at the center of Obama's health care overhaul plan.

Berwick's a respected pediatrician, author, professor of health policy at Harvard, and the founder and director of the Cambridge-based Institute for Health Care Improvement. And he has been a leading advocate for health care reform.

"We throw out so much in health care, we give things that can't help," Berwick said in a 2008 speech. "We duplicate procedures and tests. We lose ideas of the workforce by not inviting them to join in invention. So efficiency is a big word. It means stop wasting stuff. We're very, very wasteful in health care."

However, Berwick's recess appointment is already drawing fire from Republicans, who call him an advocate of 'rationing' and an admirer of European style healthcare systems.

We examine Berwick's work and the challenges he may face as he heads to Washington.


  • Dr. Alan Sager, professor of health policy and management at the BU School of Public Health

This program aired on July 7, 2010.


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