White House reportedly to nominate Harvard prof as CMS chief

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Donald M. Berwick, MD
Image source: Harvard School of Public Health

President Barack Obama will reportedly nominate Donald M. Berwick, MD, as the next administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), according to a variety of media sources.

The CMS has been without a permanent administrator since October 2006, when Mark B. McClellan, MD, stepped down. CMS’ Chief Operating Officer Charlene M. Frizzera has been fulfilling the role of acting administrator since January 2009.

Currently, Berwick is a clinical professor of pediatrics and healthcare policy at the Harvard Medical School in Boston and a professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass. He is also a pediatrician, an associate in pediatrics at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, and a consultant in pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, located in Boston, according to Harvard’s web site.

Also, Berwick currently holds the position of president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), an independent nonprofit organization seeking to improve global healthcare “by building the will for change, cultivating promising concepts for improving patient care and helping healthcare systems put those ideas into action,” according the organization’s web site. IHI was founded in 1991 and is based in Cambridge, Mass.

According to Harvard, Berwick was chair of the health services research review study section of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research from 1995–1999, and chair of the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality from 1999 through 2001. He was vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force from 1990 through 1996. He is a member of several editorial boards, including that of Journal of American Medical Association.

From 1987 through 1991, Berwick was co-founder and co-principal investigator for the National Demonstration Project on Quality Improvement in Health Care. He is a past president of the International Society for Medical Decision-Making. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences, and since 2002 serves on the IOM's governing Council and as the liaison to the IOM's Global Health Board.

Berwick was appointed by former President Bill Clinton to serve on the Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry in 1997 and 1998.