KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Dem Leaders Acknowledge Senate Support For Berwick Falls Short

But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief says he remains entirely focused on the job at hand.

CQ HealthBeat: Baucus: 'The Votes Aren't There' For Controversial CMS Nominee Berwick
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus said Tuesday "the votes aren't there" to move the nomination of Donald M. Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The comments came days after 42 GOP senators - enough to sustain a filibuster - said they would vote against Berwick's nomination. It has been clear ever since Berwick took the helm of CMS in July, as a recess appointment, that it would be difficult for the Senate to confirm him. But Baucus' statement is the clearest yet that Democratic senators believe it may be futile to fight for the nomination (Adams and Norman, 3/8).

The Hill: Berwick: White House Has My Back
Embattled Medicare chief Don Berwick said that the White House has supported him throughout a partisan battle over his future at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Berwick's future at the agency is in doubt now that the overwhelming majority of Republican senators have called on the administration to withdraw his nomination. Last week, 42 Republicans senators called on President Obama to scrap Berwick's nomination, saying his past statements about health care rationing and his "lack of experience" managing an organization of CMS's size disqualify him. Obama recess appointed Berwick to lead CMS in July 2010 (Millman, 3/8).

Modern Healthcare: Berwick Says He's Staying Focused On Job
Amid swirling speculation that his nomination battle is lost, CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick said his "attention is on the job." Berwick, who serves under a recess appointment, told reporters Tuesday that he was grateful for the White House support he has received since 42 Republican senators asked President Barack Obama in a letter last week to remove Berwick from consideration. ... Asked whether he has met with any of those Republican senators to address their concerns about him - concerns that stem in part from Berwick's past praise of the single-payer British health system - Berwick would not specify (Daly, 3/8).

National Journal: Despite Heat, Berwick Trudges Forward at Helm Of CMS
The embattled administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday brushed aside a Republican-led effort to have his nomination officially removed from consideration, saying that the job of implementing the year-old health care law is his top priority. "My attention is on the job," CMS Administrator Donald Berwick said. "I'm doing the job every day as hard as I can. I'm just trying to make progress towards better health care." Last week, 42 Republican senators sent President Obama a letter requesting that he withdraw Berwick's nomination. Even though he currently serves as Medicare's top official, he sidestepped the confirmation process after Obama appointed him to the post last July, when Congress was not in session (DoBias, 3/8).

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