President Obama’s latest end run around Congress was to appoint Dr. Donald Berwick, a non-practicing pediatrician and head of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by utilizing a recess appointment. Once again, someone who is not vetted by Congress slips through to a major post, in this case overseeing the 800 billion dollar budgets of Medicare and Medicaid. Not much is known about Dr. Berwick, although some reporters actually appear to be doing some investigative journalism and are questioning his numerous “positions” listed on his resume.
His full time job is listed as the head of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Below are two paragraphs taken from the website (http://www.ihi.org/ihi/about), describing the Institute:
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is an independent not-for-profit organization helping to lead the improvement of health care throughout the world. Founded in 1991 and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, IHI works to accelerate improvement by building the will for change, cultivating promising concepts for improving patient care, and helping health care systems put those ideas into action.
IHI has a staff of about 110 people. We also have partnerships with hundreds of faculty members from around the world who share what they know and learn from each other under a philosophy of “all teach, all learn.” Our programs and activities are designed to enable committed individuals and organizations to innovate together, share knowledge, and collaborate on the difficult, rewarding work of improving health care.
According to the Washington Times, Dr. Berwick “received a base salary of $509,600, a $88,200 bonus and $275,849 in deferred compensation through a contribution by the institute to a special supplemental executive retirement plan. IHI has approximately 130 employees, according to IRS filings.”
Now, taking aside the fact that President Obama did a complete run around Congress and placed a totally unvetted candidate in charge of an almost trillion dollar government program, one must ask the following questions:
Why is someone who is working for a non-profit agency that basically is doing research and teaching making almost $900,000 a year in salary and monetary benefits? Why is it that my former Chief of Police, who supervised an agency with more people than Dr. Berwick and with certainly more responsibility, including life and death decisions, got paid only around $90,000 per year, while Dr. Berwick was collecting about ten times more for much less work? Who is funding this “Institute” and paying this insane salary? What is this “Institute” really about? Reading through the website, it appears to be an Institute with a legitimate purpose, including ways to cut health care costs, but when one hears that obscene salary paid for very little responsibility, one begins to wonder about the program overall.
And now, he is in charge of an almost trillion dollar program. Why is he so highly qualified for this position and what was the purpose of placing him without vetting? What is it about Dr. Berwick and his background that President Obama did not want us to know?