KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Berwick Faces Continued Hostility From Senate

Dr. Donald M. Berwick, the new head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, faces continued hostility in the Senate, The New York Times reports.

"[T]wo weeks after taking office, Dr. Berwick is still struggling to tamp down a furor over past statements in which he discussed the rationing of health care and expressed affection for the British health care system. And he is finding his ability to do his job clouded by the circumstances of his appointment, with many Republicans in open revolt over President Obama's decision to place him in the post without a Senate confirmation vote." His backers say he has been "preparing a point-by-point rebuttal, most likely to be delivered when he first testifies before Congress." In it, he will likely focus on the work of CMS, "which finances health care for one in three Americans and has a budget bigger than the Pentagon's." But although Berwick has full legal authority despite being a recess appointee, "his supporters worry that he will be a lame duck because agency employees and health care interest groups know he may be gone in 18 months." If he is not confirmed, his appointment will expire at the end of the next session of the Senate (Pear, 7/26).

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