More than 90 healthcare groups extend support to CMS nominee Berwick

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More than 90 different healthcare organizations have come forward to support Don Berwick, nominee for administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. He has faced a barrage of Republican attacks.

A group comprised of roughly 90 healthcare-related businesses, clinician groups, insurance plans and consumer advocacy groups this week sent a letter to Sen. Max Baucus urging the senator to quickly confirm Berwick as the new administrator of CMS. The group told Baucus that Berwick is “exactly the right person to lead CMS at this critical time.” Signatories include the American Geriatrics Society, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Families USA and Wal-mart Stores Inc.

The lawmakers noted that even former Bush-era CMS administrator Thomas Scully has said, “You're not going to do any better.” In highlighting Berwick's past achievements and credentials, the group mentioned his “Protecting 5 Million Lives From Harm” campaign, which aims to reduce preventable harm from surgical complications, MRSA infections, pressure ulcers and other avoidable risks.

Berwick has been under severe criticism from conservatives since his nomination. Most notably, his work with Britain's National Health Service has led some to believe he supports socialized medicine and rationing healthcare services. The 90 organizations rebutted those charges in their letter. They said that Berwick's views have been “quoted in ways that misrepresent his beliefs,” and that those misrepresentations do “a disservice to Dr. Berwick who has a long history as a leader in promoting patient-centered care.”