General Information

President Appoints Donald Berwick to Head CMS

Using a recess appointment that does not require Senate approval, President Obama has appointed Donald Berwick, M.D., to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Berwick will have all the same powers and responsibilities as a Senate approved candidate, but his term will end at the start of the next session of Congress in late 2011, at which time he will have to be reappointed.

Berwick is a pediatrician and professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. In 1991, Berwick co-founded the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a Cambridge, Mass.-based nonprofit organization that brings together health care stakeholders to research and encourage implementation of best practices to improve health care quality.

CMS has been without a permanent administrator since 2006. Numerous changes to Medicare and Medicaid programs included in the Affordable Care Act elevated the need for someone to permanently lead CMS. Berwick has received widespread praise from health care providers and policymakers, but has been criticized by conservatives for his praise of Britain’s National Health Service. Contact: Anne O’Rourke, (202) 488-4494,