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Gawande

Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and author, has been named CEO of a venture sponsored by Amazon.com Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. that aims to bring down those three firms’ health care costs.

The companies announced the appointment last week and said the new venture, to be based in Boston, will be run independently and be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

The three corporate giants, which together employ nearly 1 million U.S. workers, announced the joint venture in January, saying they wanted to find ways to provide “simplified, high-quality and transparent health care at a reasonable cost.”

Buffett, the famously frugal Nebraska billionaire, at the time called rising health care costs a “hungry tapeworm” eating at the U.S. economy.

The move triggered speculation that any solutions or innovations the venture develops could ripple throughout the health care system, potentially benefiting other employers and workers — and threatening the profits of drug, insurance and other health care companies.

Gawande said Wednesday in a statement that the joint venture will “incubate better models of care for all,” not just the three companies’ employees.

Gawande is a professor at Harvard Medical School and a practicing endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He has been a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine since 1998 and is the author of four books, including 2014’s “Being Mortal” and 2002’s “Complications.”

Buffett said in a statement that he, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos and J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon are “confident that we have found in Atul the leader who will get this important job done.”

Gawande starts his new job on July 9.

Tribune News Service