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Berwick leaving CMS

November 23, 2011
by Dennis Grantham, Editor in Chief
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A lightning rod for Senate critics, Berwick got health reforms moving

According to the The Washington Post, Donald Berwick, MD, the Harvard University professor and pediatrician appointed by President Obama to launch implementation of national health care reforms will leave his position as Medicare chief on December 2.

Berwick’s tenure was short, but eventful. Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Berwick was nominated for the post as chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid just over 16 months ago. After a Republican filibuster denied him Senate approval, President Obama used a recess appointment to install Berwick, who began the complex, years-long process of implementing the Affordable Care Act's complex provisions to extend health care coverage to nearly all Americans within the decade.

Berwick leaves CMS 13 months ahead of the time—the expiration of President Obama’s first term—that would have been allowed by his recess appointment. The president is expected to nominate Marilyn Tavenner, MD, who now serves as Berwick’s deputy, for approval by the Senate to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. Before her appointment to CMS, Tavenner served as head of Virginia's state healthcare program and as a senior executive at a large healthcare organization.