Coalition Letter of Support for Dr. Don Berwick

June 29, 2010 at 11:23am

June 29, 2010

The Honorable Max Baucus
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Baucus:

As representatives of consumers, patients, employers, clinicians, health plans, and
other health care providers, we write in strong support of the nomination of Don
Berwick, M.D., to the position of Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services (CMS). We urge Congress to act quickly to confirm Dr. Berwick to this
important position.

Congress took a major step forward this year in helping to close the “quality chasm”
through the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA
charges CMS with leading the transformation of the health care delivery system through
the creation of new Medicare and Medicaid payment models, new demonstration and
pilot projects, the establishment of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation,
and other important initiatives.

These new tools will more closely link payment to the quality outcomes patients and
providers seek – thereby helping to ensure greater value for the health care dollar. Dr.
Berwick’s proven experience in leading health care delivery system transformations
makes him uniquely suited for the CMS Administrator’s role in implementing the ACA.

Dr. Berwick is also one of the nation's leading authorities on health care quality and
improvement. He has dedicated his professional career to closing what the Institute of
Medicine has called the “quality chasm”; that is, the enormous gap between the health
care we have and the health care we should have.

As President of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), he led the successful
100,000 Lives Campaign that dramatically reduced preventable mortality in American
health care. Under his leadership, IHI recruited and partnered with more than 3,000
hospitals across the country to adopt and implement proven best practices to reducing
unnecessary death. In 18 short months, an estimated 122,300 lives were saved.

Building on this success, he launched the Protecting 5 Million Lives From Harm
campaign to reduce preventable harm from surgical complications, MRSA infections,
pressure ulcers and other avoidable risks. These groundbreaking initiatives are the
hallmark of Dr. Berwick’s work and the type of innovative leadership CMS needs.

Unfortunately, some of Dr. Berwick’s speeches and writings have been quoted in ways
that misrepresent his beliefs. Specifically, it has been suggested that Dr. Berwick is an
advocate of health care rationing and that he in some way supports the government
making health care decisions that should be made by patients and their doctors.

This misrepresentation does a disservice to Dr. Berwick who has a long history as a
leader in promoting patient-centered care. Dr. Berwick has consistently prioritized
patients’ needs and preferences not only through his best practice initiatives, but also by
teaching health professionals how to put patients at the center of health care decisionmaking
through IHI’s health professions training work. In short, Dr. Berwick’s
commitment to patient-centered care is about putting control of health care decisions in
the hands of informed patients and their families, working in partnership with their
physicians. This vision makes Dr. Berwick exactly the right person to lead CMS at this
critical time.

We are not alone in our assessment. Health care leaders from across the political
spectrum agree. Dr. Berwick’s nomination has been hailed by physician and hospital
leaders, patient advocates, and a wide range of thought leaders. As former CMS
Administrator under President George W. Bush, Thomas Scully, has said, “You’re not
going to do any better.”

Dr. Berwick is the right leader, at the right time, to make health care reform work for
patients and their families. The time for distractions and misleading rhetoric has
passed. We urge you to confirm Dr. Berwick.


Buyers Health Care Action Group; Group Insurance Commission, Commonwealth of
MA; Health Action Council Ohio; HealthCare 21 Business Coalition; HEREIU
Welfare Fund; Mid-West Business Group on Health; National Business Coalition on
Health; National Business Group on Health; New Jersey Health Care Quality
Institute; New York Business Group on Health; Pacific Business Group on Health
(PBGH); Puget Sound Health Alliance; St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition;
The Alliance; Wal-mart Stores Inc.

American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP); American Academy of Nursing;
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); American Association of Homes & Services
for the Aging (AAHSA); American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM)/American
Board of Internal Medicine Foundation (ABIMF); American Board of Medical
Specialties (ABMS); American College of Cardiology (ACC); American College of
Physicians; American Geriatrics Society; American Osteopathic Association (AOA);
American Society of Consultant Pharmacists; Doctors for America; National
Association of Social Workers; PHI – Quality Care through Quality Jobs

Alliance of Community Health Plans; Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan
(CDPHP); Capital Health Plan; CareOregon; Emblem Health; Fallon Community
Health Plan; Group Health Cooperative; HealthPartners; Independent Health
Association; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan; Martin’s Point Health Care;
Presbyterian Health Plan; Security Health Plan; Tufts Health Plan; UCare

AFL-CIO; AFSCME; Alliance for Retired Americans; Alzheimer’s Association;
American Association of People with Disabilities; American Hospice Foundation;
Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum; Caring From a Distance (CFAD);
Center for Medical Consumers; Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.; Coalition of
Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG); Community Catalyst; Consumer Coalition for
Quality Health Care; Consumers Advancing Patient Safety (CAPS); Consumers for
Affordable Health Care Foundation; Consumers Union; Empowered Patient
Coalition; Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO; Families USA; Health
Care for All; Healthwise; Informed Patient Institute; Maine Center for Economic
Policy; Maine Council of Senior Citizens-Alliance for Retired Americans; Medicare
Rights Center; MomsRising; Mothers Against Medical Error; National Alliance for
Caregiving; National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA); National Center on
Caregiving, Family Caregiver Alliance; National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship;
National Committee to Preserve and Protect Social Security and Medicare; National
Council on Aging; National Family Caregivers Association; National Health Law
Program (NHeLP); National PACE Association; National Partnership for Women &
Families; National Patient Safety Foundation; North Carolina Justice Center; OWL -
The Voice of Midlife and Older Women; People for the American Way; Service
Employees International Union (SEIU); The Leadership Conference on Civil and
Human Rights; The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care; UHCAN
Ohio; Well Spouse Association