… Berwick, the blinder remover …
Iread and listened with dismay over various outcries about the recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick as administrator, or head of the CMS. He’s a smart, thoughtful man with a good deal of common sense. Just what we need as we attempt to tame the raging tiger that is health-
care. We’re lucky that he’s willing to serve.
As much as the next American, I’m all for learning about political appointees’ opinions and plans. I am not, however, a fan of political posturing and commissions that are only masquerading as being useful. The latest hue and cry about the recess appointment of Berwick puzzles me: “We need to know where he stands! We need to know what he’s going to do!”
Really? The American public, and especially Congress (supposedly well-read in healthcare issues) doesn’t know where Berwick stands or what he proposes to do? This man has written volumes and given countless speeches outlining what he thinks the U.S. should do. He has built a foundation that transforms those thoughts into action, helping hospitals deliver higher-quality and lower-cost care.
He’s thoughtful, smart and—most worrisome to the status quo—honest. He is willing to put the unpopular positions forward for discussion. He’s right; the waste in healthcare is astounding, full of nonvalue-added activities that sap the strength from our country.
And, yes, he does want to reform healthcare because it’s broken and needs to be reformed. Our quality compared with other developed nations is slipping. Our system is fragmented, much too expensive, burdened with extraneous care of dubious usefulness, and often inaccessible. We can do better. Why wouldn’t we borrow lessons from other countries where care is better and costs are lower?
I think Berwick can help remove the blinders of arrogance. Healthcare reform is too complex and too critical, and the problems Dr. Berwick (and all of us) are facing are too important to be relegated to a: “He wants death panels!” Twitter post. We all deserve better.
Shelley Burns Director of knowledge management Healthcare Management Council