16 March 2011

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:


Your outstanding nominee to lead CMS, Dr. Donald Berwick, is trapped in the partisan battle over health reform. Misleading statements and untruths about his remarkable record have replaced a legitimate exploration of differences that can emerge during an open public hearing. We deplore this mistreatment of such a highly qualified individual who has already proven his leadership skills and vision in the short time he has served as the CMS Administrator.  We are troubled that those 42 senators who seek to block his nomination would deny him a voice through the formal hearings process.

We urge you to ask Chairmen Baucus and Harkin to schedule hearings in the Senate committees to consider Dr. Berwick’s appointment. We realize that the opposing Senators may have no interest in considering Dr. Berwick on his merits. If that is the case, open hearings will let the opponents define themselves and their motives. 

As President, you often describe the “civil discourse” and “collective reason” required to resolve the daunting issues we face as a Nation. We agree. No one is as well prepared as Dr. Berwick
to help you and the Nation move forward to make health care safer, more effective, more responsive, and more efficient for us all. It is critically important that he have the opportunity
to defend his record and share his views in full view of the public.

If ever there were a time for all of us working together to step forward on the health care debate, it is now.



Lucian L. Leape, MD
Harvard School of Public Health
Chair, Lucian Leape Institute at NPSF

David M. Lawrence, MD
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (retired)
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and
Kaiser Foundation Hospital

Paul O’Neill
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (retired) Alcoa
72nd Secretary of the US Treasury


Diane Pinakiewicz, MBA
National Patient Safety Foundation


Laura K. Botwinick
Director, Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy
University of Chicago

G. Steven Burrill
CEO, Burrill & Company

Christine K. Cassel, MD


Jordan J. Cohen, MD
Professor of Medicine and Public Health George Washington University

James B. Conway
Senior Vice President
Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Janet Corrigan, PhD, MBA

Denis A. Cortese, MD
Foundation Professor and Director of the Healthcare Delivery and Policy Program
Arizona State University

Molly Joel Coye, MD, MPH
Chief Innovation Officer
UCLA Health System
University of California, Los Angeles

Susan Edgman-Levitan, PA
Executive Director
The John D. Stoeckle Center
for Primary Care Innovation
Massachusetts General Hospital

Sharon I. Eloranta, MD
Medical Director, Quality and Safety Initiatives
Qualis Health

James A. Guest

Gary S. Kaplan, MD
Chairman and CEO
Virginia Mason Medical Center

Gov. John Kitzhaber, MD
Governor of Oregon

John C. (Jack) Lewin, MD

Pinckney McIlwain, MD
VP, Clinical Quality/Patient Safety
Cape Fear Valley Health System

Jacqueline McLeod, MD
General Practitioner and Medical Director

Karen Metzguer
PQCNC Quality Improvement Advisor
Professor of Pediatrics
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Blackford Middleton, MD, MPH, MSc
Partners HealthCare System, Inc.

Arnold Milstein, MD
Stanford University and the
Pacific Business Group on Health

Julianne M. Morath, RN, MS
Member, Board of Commissioners
The Joint Commission

Gail A. Nielsen
Director of Learning and Innovation
Center for Clinical Transformation
Iowa Health System

Dennis O’Leary
President Emeritus
The Joint Commission

William Rosenzweig
Managing Director
Physic Ventures

Anna M. Roth, RN, MS, MPH
Chief Executive Officer
Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Health Centers

Matt Stiefel
Senior Director
Department of Care and Service Quality
Kaiser Permanente

Paul Sullivan, MD

Pamela A. Thompson, MS, RN, CENP, FAAN
Lucian Leape Institute at NPSF

Robert M. Wachter, MD
Professor and Chief
Division of Hospital Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

A. Eugene Washington

Andrew Webber
President and CEO
National Business Coalition on Health

Steven Weinberger, MD, FACP
Executive VP and CEO
American College of Physicians


Bonnie Zell, MD, MPH




American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Physicians

American Osteopathic Association

Virginia Mason Medical Center



























cc:  Chief of Staff, William Daley

        Senator Baucus

        Senator Harkin




(reprinted with permission of author) 



(reprinted with permission of author)