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Marilyn Tavenner enters as Donald Berwick (finally) exits CMS (Morning Read)

Current medical news and unique business news for anyone who cares about healthcare. Meet the new Berwick. Same as the old Berwick. Donald Berwick, who could never get through Congressional approval as head of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, finally exited and has been replaced (for now) with Marilyn Tavenner, who has been serving […]

Current medical news and unique business news for anyone who cares about healthcare.

Meet the new Berwick. Same as the old Berwick. Donald Berwick, who could never get through Congressional approval as head of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, finally exited and has been replaced (for now) with Marilyn Tavenner, who has been serving as the agency’s second in command.

Tavenner is a nurse and former executive at Hospital Corporation of America. She opposes the Medicaid block grant approach and has made such polarizing statements as: “The only way to stabilize costs without cutting benefits or provider fees is to improve care to those with the highest health care costs.” People expect her to continue, with little change, the work already underway at CMS.

Nonetheless, prepare for a fight to get Tavenner confirmed as leader of CMS if only because healthcare is such a hot potato. “That position always gets sucked into the controversy of the day – Part D, PPACA,” a Republican lobbyist told Politico. “That makes confirmation really hard.”

Requiem for Donald Berwick. How would you like this on your professional headstone? Donald Berwick: Symbol of All That Republicans Dislike in President Obama’s Health Care Policies.

Republicans caricatured Dr. Berwick as an advocate of health care rationing because of comments he had made before coming to Washington. He had, for example, lavishly praised the British health care system. In an interview with a biotechnology journal in 2009, he said, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

Jamie E. Smith, a deputy White House press secretary said: “Don Berwick did outstanding work. It’s unfortunate that a small group of senators obstructed his nomination, putting political interests above the best interests of the American people.”

One (awful) way around the patent cliff. Amgen’s approach to find a new patent for an old gives Enbrel 17 more years of life. That’s good for the not so innovative big pharma companies, but completely undermines portions of healthcare reform and could – if replicated – undermine opportunities for biosimilars.

San Diego: Losing its MedCity luster? What does San Diego’s 10th place status in venture investing mean for the region’s status as a biotech hub? Not much, hope the locals.

Venture industry “too small.” The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has trimmed the money it uses to invest through venture funds, saying the venture industry “is too small to absorb a larger percentage of money from an investor the size of CalPERS.

FDA approves Transcept sleep drug. The drug, Intermezzo, helps people go back to sleep when waking up in the middle of the night. It could generate $94 million in fees and royalties for Transcept and is the company’s first product.

A slow, thankful day in the MedCity. You won’t be reading much on MedCityNews.com today, as we will all be trying to replicate and disprove the tryptophan hypothesis. Happy Thanksgiving.

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