Lightning Rod Ex-’Obamacare’ Official to Run for Mass. Governor

Jun 17, 2013 12:46pm
gty donald berwick ll 130617 wblog Lightning Rod Ex Obamacare Official to Run for Mass. Governor

(Ryan Kelly/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Donald Berwick, a former controversial figure in the Obama administration who served as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said he will run for governor of Massachusetts next year.

“As a doctor, an educator, an innovator and someone who has dedicated his professional career to making things work better and to helping people, I am ready to lead,” Berwick, who is a professor at Harvard Medical School and a licensed pediatrician,  said today in a statement announcing his candidacy.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a key ally of President Obama’s, announced that he would not run for a third term.

Berwick, 66, is a key figure in the political battle over President Obama’s health care law, which goes into effect across the country at the same time that he will be running for the governor’s mansion in Massachusetts.

He served as both a lightning rod to conservatives who opposed the law in 2010 and a hero to Democrats who hailed his academic work on reducing costs in health care systems.

Berwick came under fire for comments he made before joining the administration in which he praised Britain’s health care system. And Republicans made Berwick the symbol of health care “rationing” that they believed would occur under the Affordable Care Act, eventually stalling his nomination in the Senate for several months.

President Obama circumvented Congress by making a recess appointment to put Berwick in charge of the Medicare & Medicaid office in 2010. Berwick resigned in 2011, facing no realistic path through Republican opposition to his nomination.

Berwick’s decision to run makes him a second Massachusetts figure from the academic world who would make a foray into electoral politics. Former Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren was once viewed as an advocate for bank regulation in the academic role and successfully made the jump to politics by ousting former Republican Sen. Scott Brown last year.

Massachusetts is also a state where there is already a health care law in place that mandates health insurance coverage. That law served as the basis for the Affordable Care Act.

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