People on the Move – Obama nominates head of Medicare, Medicaid Centers

U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Harvard Medical School professor Donald Berwick on Monday to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, filling a role at the heart of his historic healthcare reform.

A health policy expert, Berwick would take over as the agency, the largest U.S. healthcare agency and one of the government’s largest, undergoes massive changes due to the sweeping healthcare overhaul Obama signed into law last month.

He is likely to face a tough confirmation fight in the U.S. Senate, which was bitterly divided over the healthcare law. The massive reform passed despite near-unanimous opposition by congressional Republicans, many of whom have vowed to repeal it.

A pediatrician, Berwick is now president and chief executive of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an independent organization aimed at improving healthcare.

He is also clinical professor of pediatrics and healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School and professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Medicare and Medicaid are federal medical programs for elderly and poor Americans. The overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system will extend Medicaid’s coverage to millions more needy Americans.

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