2014 Massachusetts Gubernatorial Forum on Mental Health
Don Berwick has dedicated his life to creating stronger communities and saving lives. Now he's running for Governor to make Massachusetts a beacon for the rest of the nation.
Don has called Massachusetts home for decades – first as a student, then as a pediatrician, a teacher, and a CEO. Don and his wife Ann live in the same Newton house where they raised their four children and now play with their grandchildren.
Don followed in his father's footsteps and became a pediatrician, when he learned that caring for Massachusetts' children also meant improving the hospitals, health systems, and communities that families depend on. In 1991, he helped found the non-profit Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where for 20 years he led scores of projects and massive campaigns - credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Don has been named to the list of most influential health care leaders in the country every year for more than a decade. In 2011, he ranked #4 on the list – just after President Obama.
In 2010, the President asked Don to go to Washington to lead the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Don took charge of an agency with a budget over $800 billion—larger than the Pentagon's—and led a staff of more than 5,500 people. At one of the most critical times in our nation's history, Don implemented many of the most important provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
The toxic politics of Washington cut short Don's time there. Right-wing pundits attacked his commitment to equity and care for all. Glenn Beck labeled him the "second most dangerous man in America." Senate Republicans vowed to filibuster his confirmation. In the face of the same Republicans who blocked Elizabeth Warren's confirmation to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Don was forced to step aside after only 17 months leading Medicaid and Medicare.
But Don was inspired by the potential of public service. Each morning, Don walked by the words of former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey engraved on the Health and Human Services Building: "The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."
Don knows that if we commit to this moral test, we can defeat the toxic politics he saw in Washington. Massachusetts has been at the forefront of this fight through its long history. The Commonwealth was the first state that committed to health care as a human right; that said you can marry who you love; that built schools that are the envy of the world. It has the potential to be the state that ends poverty; that gives all citizens a roof over their head; and that leaves no one behind. As the next Governor of Massachusetts, Don Berwick will work each and every day to meet that potential.