Payers, providers, consumers urge quick confirmation of Berwick to head Medicare

Premier said Tuesday that that's a mistake.

"While with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Dr. Berwick earned respect and admiration from all sectors of healthcare for his ability to understand what drives errors and inefficiencies, challenge the status quo and overcome barriers to achieve continuous quality improvements," the group wrote to leaders of both parties on the Senate Finance and health committees.

"With this background, we are confident Dr. Berwick understands first-hand how difficult it will be to implement reforms of such significant scale and magnitude. More importantly, we believe he has the vision and experience to overcome the challenges ahead to drive improvements in pragmatic, effective ways."

The sentiments are hardly unique to Premier. Also on Tuesday, a long list of provider, business and consumer groups sent a letter to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) with a nearly identical message.

"Berwick’s commitment to patient-centered care is about putting control of healthcare decisions in the hands of informed patients and their families, working in partnership with their physicians," the groups argued. "This vision makes Dr. Berwick exactly the right person to lead CMS [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] at this critical time."

The letter was signed by nearly 100 groups, including organizations as diverse as the American Academy of Nursing, the Alliance of Community Health Plans, the AFL-CIO and Wal-Mart.

The Finance Committee has yet to set a date to examine Berwick for the post.