Berwick for CMS administrator; McClellan to chair CAST

WASHINGTON, D.C.- President Obama last month nominated Donald Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Berwick, current president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.

“Dr. Berwick has dedicated his career to improving outcomes for patients and providing better care at lower cost,” Obama said in a statement. “That’s one of the core missions facing our next CMS administrator, and I’m confident that Don will be an outstanding leader for the agency and the millions of Americans it serves.”

Berwick has served as Chair of the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and as an elected member of the Institute of Medicine. He was also appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry between 1997 and 1998.

A day after the nomination, the Republican Policy Committee released a memo stating its opposition to Berwick, arguing that he is a proponent of rationed healthcare similar to Britain’s government-run system. The memo referenced several quotes from Berwick that appeared to show him in favor of rationed healthcare, reported.

Berwick’s nomination moved on to the Senate for confirmation. He would replace Charlene Frizzera, the current but temporary CMS administrator-a position that has been occupied by interim appointees since former administrator Mark McClellan stepped down in 2006.

McClellan made news in April when he was named chair of the Commission of the Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST), an international coalition dedicated to technologies that can “transform the aging experience.” CAST is comprised of more than 400 technology companies, aging services organizations, businesses, research universities, and government representatives.

McClellan is expected to drive research into advancing aging services technologies, as well as support initiatives that educate healthcare professionals on how health information technology can benefit the elderly.

“I am confident [McClellan’s] leadership will ensure that long-term and post-acute care improvement is considered an essential element of national health IT initiatives,” said Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

CMS leaves payment vulnerabilities uncorrected

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has yet to implement corrective actions for 60% of the most significant recovery audit contractor (RAC)-identified vulnerabilities that have led to improper payments, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

CMS conducted a three-year project starting in March 2005 to demonstrate the use of RACs in identifying Medicare improper payments and recouping overpayments.

The RACs identified 58 vulnerabilities-35 of which CMS did not address, representing $231 million in overpayments, according to the GAO.

“CMS developed a process to compile identified vulnerabilities and recommend actions to prevent improper payments,” the report stated. “However, this corrective action process lacks certain essential procedures and staff with the authority to ensure that these vulnerabilities are resolved promptly and adequately to prevent further improper payments.”

The GAO recommended CMS develops a process to ensure that RAC audits are evaluated promptly and that personnel are designated to correct the identified vulnerabilities. The entire report can be found at

George Mason University will be launching its Master of Science in Senior Housing Administration during the upcoming fall 2010 semester

The Pioneer Network has launched an online version of its Artifacts of Culture Change tool, which will allow providers to measure culture change implementation in their communities (

Long-Term Living 2010 May;59(5):12

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