“That’s Democracy”

Anyone interested in a little insight into CMS under Dr. Don Berwick and what the legacy of  his short tenure might be can find a lot to consider in the online Health Affairs post:  “Now Departed From The Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services…” written by Harris Meyer.    The article looks at Berwick’s efforts to both transform the health care delivery system, as well as the CMS agency and the 5,400 people it employs.    “We’re working on the agency culture and habits,” he said in an interview between meetings.  “We’re seeking boundarylessness, speed and agility, unconditional teamwork, innovation, and customer focus. ”  All indications are that the large bureaucracy was beginning to respond.

Interestingly, Berwick’s “that’s democracy” quote comes not in response to the partisanship in Washington DC that laid ruin to any chance he had at a permanent appointment.  Berwick used the phrase in reflecting on the outpouring of (mostly negative) comments received at CMS from health care stakeholders with the release of his preliminary proposal on Medicare Accountable Care Organizations.  “What happened is what should have happened,” he said. “We took our best shot, and smarter people than we are responded. That’s democracy.”

Democracy indeed. Read it for yourself and decide.

Author: Pat Kelleher

Pat Kelleher is Executive Director of the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.

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