Berwick Launches Bid for Mass. Governor Seat

Onetime CMS administrator’s campaign cites education and healthcare as key platform items.

Onetime Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, Donald Berwick has launched a campaign to be governor of Massachusetts (www.berwickforgovernor.com).

Berwick cited primary and secondary education along with healthcare as key campaign platform items. On his campaign website, he cited conversations he had with his fellow Bay Staters about the “amazing progress” their state had made “in building a healthcare system that can be a model for the nation, and in reaching out to its most vulnerable citizens,” but noted that “we also talked about how we can do better.”

In that regard, Berwick’s campaign stated that sustainable healthcare for Massachusetts would require “major changes,” and discussed a “new health care system,” but did not actually describe the components of such a system or what changes were needed.

Put in the CMS Administrator spot by President Obama via a July 2010, recess appointment, the onetime Harvard Professor and pediatrician was never confirmed by the Senate confirmation process. A Democrat, Berwick received substantial criticism from Republicans, and his confirmation had looked somewhat contentious. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other capitalized on various statements made by Berwick, such as “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open,” in their opposition to his appointment.

Once in the position, Berwick oversaw the run-up to Round Two of competitive bidding, including the rollout of the program’s timeline and initial bids. While 166 economists famously expressed pointed concerns about competitive bidding, Berwick worked to expand the program.

“Medicare is paying much more than the private sector for equipment like wheelchairs and walkers,” Berwick said in a CMS statement at the time. “By expanding our successful competitive-bidding program, we can ensure that Medicare pays a fair rate for these goods.”

President Obama re-nominated Berwick in January of 2011; in March of 2011 42 Republican Senators called for the nomination to be withdrawn; and on Dec. 2, 2011, Berwick resigned his post.

In terms of Berwick’s opposition, Massachusetts current Democratic Governor Deval Patrick will not run for a third term. Republican Charles Baker, who lost to Patrick in 2010, is considering another bid for the seat.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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