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Atul Gawande named CEO of Berkshire, Amazon, JPMorgan health care venture

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter

Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and Jamie Dimon have found their CEO.

Dr. Atul Gawande has been named CEO of the health care company founded by Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B), Amazon (AMZN), and JPMorgan (JPM) in an effort to push down health care costs.

Gawande will begin his role at the new company, which will be headquartered in Boston, on July 9. The companies said this new company will operate as an independent entity and will be free from profit-making incentives and constraints.

Dr. Atul Gawande has been named CEO of the new healthcare company founded by Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, and JP Morgan.

Gawande currently practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He is founding executive director of the health systems innovation center, Ariadne Labs. He also is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and he has written four New York Times bestsellers: “Complications,” “Better,” “The Checklist Manifesto,” and “Being Mortal.”

“Talent and dedication were manifest among the many professionals we interviewed,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett.

“All felt that better care can be delivered and that rising costs can be checked. Jamie, Jeff and I are confident that we have found in Atul the leader who will get this important job done.”

Buffett had previously told Yahoo Finance that Ted Combs, one of Berkshire’s two investment managers, had been spending most of his time searching for the CEO to run this new company. In recent years, Buffett has described rising health care costs as the “tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.” Since Buffett began his career as an investor, U.S. spending on health care has risen from around 4% of GDP to around 18%.

“We need an extraordinary CEO because it takes a lot of imagination, and it takes a whole lot of execution,” Buffett told Yahoo Finance. “And it takes somebody that has a fervor for doing this beyond just having a job.”

“I’m thrilled to be named CEO of this health care initiative,” Gawande said.

“I have devoted my public health career to building scalable solutions for better health care delivery that are saving lives, reducing suffering, and eliminating wasteful spending both in the U.S. and across the world. Now I have the backing of these remarkable organizations to pursue this mission with even greater impact for more than a million people, and in doing so incubate better models of care for all. This work will take time but must be done. The system is broken, and better is possible.”

Gawande has been on the radar of Buffett and the leadership at Berkshire Hathaway for some time. In 2010, Berkshire vice chairman Charlie Munger wrote a $20,000 check to The New Yorker after Gawande published an article about health care in Texas.

Munger told the magazine to give the money as a gift to Gawande; Gawande donated the money to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, according to the HuffPost. 

Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland