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New CMS head gets recess appointment

On Wednesday, July 7, President Obama appointed Dr. Donald M. Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Dr. Berwick has served as a pediatrician at Harvard Community Health Plan, and has taught health policy as a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. As president and co-founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvements (IHI), Dr. Berwick worked to reduce hospital-acquired infections and deaths, and produced standards to improve health care quality.

Dr. Berwick’s term will last only through 2011 due to his appointment during Congressional recess, which bypassed the Senate confirmation process. The post had been vacant since October 2006.

CMS, which oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programs, plays a key role in health reform implementation.