Berwick's Resignation a Signal of a Faulty Political System

Stephanie Bouchard | Healthcare Finance News | November 29, 2011

It came as a surprise to no one that Donald Berwick, MD, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, would not be carrying on in the position once his term ended on Dec. 31, but many were surprised last week when he announced his resignation would be effective on Dec. 2.

While much of the focus now is on Berwick’s replacement – the Obama administration is nominating Marilyn Tavenner, a nurse who is the principal deputy and chief operating officer at CMS and has already served as CMS’ acting administrator prior to Berwick’s appointment – some in the industry are reflecting on Berwick’s departure and the larger issues it signifies: a political system that is too polarized to be effective.

Berwick’s resignation – and the opposition he faced in Congress – is an example of the shallowness of our political system said John Chessare, MD, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. “He gave the American people a gift,” said Chessare, who calls Berwick his mentor. “He accepted President Obama’s request to do it (become CMS administrator) and then because of the foolishness and the pettiness of our national political system, he’s leaving.”...