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Health | Opinion
Mark Trahant: Obama's exciting pick for Medicaid agency

"Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: “If you’ve been in government a long time, as I have been, then the most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence. Why is this exciting? Because it’s rare.” When I read the quote, even today, I can hear the late New York senator’s voice booming, his last word full with extra punctuation.

Today I’m excited for the government. Health care reform should bring nutrition to a starving Indian health system. And, if the next test for health care reform is execution, then the government might be on the right course. The New York Times reported Sunday that Dr. Donald Berwick is the president’s choice to head the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

This is a choice that exceeds Moynihan’s rareness of competency. Berwick represents the ideal, the one person you think could help the government, the people and the medical profession come together and a coalesce around the idea of excellent health care. Last December at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement conference I watched hundreds of professionals cheer on Berwick as they would a rock star. This is a doctor who’s willing to talk about what’s really important to people. “Health care has no intrinsic value at all. None, Health does. Joy does. Peace does,” he said in December. “The best hospital bed is empty. The best CT scan is the one we don’t need. The best doctor’s visit is the one we don’t need.”

Imagine that. Doctors we don’t need."

Get the Story:
An exciting appointment to head the federal Medicaid & Medicare agency (Mark Trahant 3/29)

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