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Berwick Steps Out of Political Fray

November 23, 2011

The Associated Press is reporting that President Obama’s top health care law chief, Dr. Donald Berwick, will be stepping down after Republicans succeeded in blocking his confirmation by the Senate, the White House announced said.

Medicare’s Berwick, a Harvard professor who is widely respected for his ideas on how to improve the health care system, became the most prominent casualty of the political wars over a health care overhaul whose constitutionality will be now decided by the Supreme Court, the AP said.

Praising Berwick for “outstanding work,” White House deputy press secretary Jamie Smith criticized Republicans for “putting political interests above the best interests of the American people.”

In a statement, the American Hospital Association (AHA) praised Berwick’s commitment and passion to improving health care. ” We appreciate his openness to always being willing to listen to the hospital field’s perspective on how to deliver better care to patients,” AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said in a statement. “He was instrumental in paving the way to new forms of payments that allow for greater coordination for patients across the care continuum. His leadership in health reform implementation has been invaluable, and we are certain he will continue to make important contributions in this arena in the future.”

The statement continued that the AHA looks forward to continuing working with Marilyn Tavenner, an administrator at CMS who served as deputy administrator under Berwick’s leadership. “Her varied and rich background as a former nurse, executive, and government official at the state level gives her a unique perspective in understanding both the implications of public policy and their implementation,” the AHA statement said. “We have no doubt that she will provide strong leadership in these challenging times.”

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