KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sen. Kerry, White House Push Back On Berwick Criticism

After Republicans levied attacks on Donald Berwick, the physician and professor President Barack Obama has nominated to lead the Medicare agency, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., came to the aide of his fellow Bay Stater, The Boston Globe reports. He said, "It's no secret that the national Republican Party has tried to crank up the attack machine and make his nomination a distorted referendum on reform. ... I hope everyone will instead take a deep breath and look at the facts about this public servant who is beyond debate a dedicated pediatrician and nationally recognized expert on health care quality" (Milligan, 5/14).

The remarks follow attempts by Republicans to cast Berwick as a supporter of "rationing" medical services. CQ Health Beat reports, "In an exchange that presages a bruising confirmation battle, the White House hit back hard Wednesday night against Republican attempts to cast Donald M. Berwick, the president's nominee to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as someone who would deny patients necessary care." The White House said remarks by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and others were meant to "trot out the same arguments and scare tactics they hoped would block health insurance reform." Berwick met with Roberts Wednesday, but afterward, the Republican senator said, "[m]ost of us will agree that he is the wrong man, wrong time, wrong job" (Reichard and Ethridge, 5/13).

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