Harvard professor Dr. Donald Berwick was sworn in today in Boston to be the next chief of Medicare and Medicaid, and will begin duties tomorrow in Washington by diving into the details of how to encourage physicians to adopt systems for electronic medical records.
Berwick -- an expert in healthcare policy, quality improvement, and cost effectiveness analysis -- was sworn in this afternoon by Chris Hager, the New England regional director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
"He will be getting to work right away,'' said Peter Ashkenaz, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that Berwick will lead after his appointment last week by President Obama. His job gives him broad authority over the giant Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs, which are central to the Obama Administration's health care overhaul efforts.
Obama bypassed the Senate confirmation process and named Berwick in a recess appointment during the congressional July Fourth vacation to avoid a battle over the nomination promised by Republicans. The GOP planned to use hearings on Berwick's nomination to renew objections to the sweeping health care overhaul law passed this year as well as to grill Berwick over statements he has made about rationing health care and his admiration of the British health care system.
Berwick will be participating with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in an event tomorrow about health care technology and the standards that physicians and hospitals must meet to qualify for federal funds for installing medical records software.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.