AAHSA praises Berwick recess appointment

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Don Berwick
Don Berwick

The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging applauded President Obama's appointment Wednesday of Don Berwick to the top spot at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“Dr. Berwick is the right person for this era of health transformation based on defined quality outcomes and new ways of serving the needs of America's seniors,” AAHSA President and CEO Larry Minnix said in a statement.

Obama used his authority to make recess appointments to fill the long-vacant position at CMS. Congress is on break in observance of the Fourth of July. The recess appointment bypasses what would likely have been a long, contentious Senate confirmation hearing. Obama was eager to fill the post because of CMS's role in implementing the healthcare reform law.

In a statement, Obama said, it is “unfortunate that… many in Congress have decided to delay crucial nominations for political purposes.”

Berwick's nomination had largely rekindled the healthcare reform debate among some conservative senators, who had charged that his views on comparative effectiveness research and Britain's National Health Service would lead him to ration healthcare services.

Despite the uproar from conservatives, Berwick's recess appointment was met with delight from many in the healthcare community. Minnix highlighted Berwick's work with the “100,000 Lives” and the “5 Million Lives” campaigns he undertook at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. These campaigns were a model for the Advancing Excellence in America's nursing homes campaign, he noted.

“These campaigns set out to protect patients from incidents of medical harm through educating hospitals on preventing common hospital-acquired conditions,” Minnix said.