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For Immediate Release

Obama Nominates PHR Board Member Don Berwick to Head Medicare and Medicaid

Cambridge, Mass - 04/22/2010

Physicians for Human Rights applauds President Obama's nomination this week of PHR Board member Don Berwick, MD, to be the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. PHR CEO Frank Donaghue praised the choice of Dr. Berwick noting that, "Don has dedicated his career to bringing creative solutions to healthcare policy, working to improve the quality of care while reducing costs; he is the right person to take on the challenges of running CMS at this turning point in the history of the American healthcare system."

Dr. Berwick is currently the President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a non-profit organization working for the improvement of health care around the world. Founded in 1991 and based in Cambridge, MA, IHI cultivates innovative concepts for improving patient care and implementing programs for putting those ideas into action. Dr. Berwick is also Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Health Care Policy in the Department of Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Berwick has been a member of PHR's Board since November 2007 and has offered continuing guidance to the organization as it navigates the changing field on non-profit research and advocacy. "Don was able to bring the knowledge and vision he developed running the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and translate it to PHR's work in health and human rights," said Donaghue.

While Physicians for Human Rights does not take a position on the specific details of domestic healthcare reform policies, we strongly believe that meaningful and effective reforms must adhere to certain human rights principles. At a minimum the US healthcare system must ensure that health services are available, accessible, and of good quality for all people, and must eliminate discrimination in all its forms, including eliminating ethnic disparities in health care delivery. "We look forward to supporting Don and the Obama Administration in working toward a more equitable healthcare system that recognizes adequate healthcare as a human right not a privilege," said PHR Washington Director John Bradshaw, "We urge the Senate to recognize Don's superb qualifications for this position and confirm him swiftly."

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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