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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Donald Berwick as head of CMS

Pres. Obama has just nominated Dr. Donald Berwick to lead CMS, the Federal government agency that runs the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Don has stellar qualifications. Equally important are his experiences as an advocate during his father's period of declining health, and his own experiences as a patient with a botched knee operation. Years ago, at his speech to the Institute of Healthcare Improvement's National Forum, he movingly described his frustration and inability to get the proper treatment, and an appropriate wheelchair, for his father, himself a doctor. At the most recent December Forum, he described his definition and vision of his own health, and showed the large gulf separating that from the absence of illness, as doctors usually define good health in practice. He did this by encouraging people to ask, What do you really want? Then to ask again, What do you really, really want? And to ask a third time, which elicits the true vision of one's ideal health.

What do I really, really, really want? For the Senate to confirm my friend and colleague Don, and give him the keys.

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