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Nice Try on Berwick, White House Says Nice Try on Berwick, White House Says

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Health Care / HEALTH

Nice Try on Berwick, White House Says

photo of Maggie Fox
March 3, 2011

A batch of Republican senators wrote to President Obama on Thursday asking him to withdraw his recess nomination of  Donald Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but the White House said “no dice.” 

Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the ranking member on the Finance Committee, and Michael Enzi, R-Wyo, the ranking member on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, led a group of 42 senators who signed the letter.

Obama appointed Berwick last July while Congress was in recess after senators refused to hold confirmation hearings. Berwick, a Harvard Medical School professor, is also a health-policy expert.

 

“Withdrawing Dr. Berwick’s nomination would be a positive first step in rebuilding the trust of the American people,” the senators wrote.

“Don Berwick is a contentious choice to head an agency with a budget larger than the Defense Department’s and implement the vast majority of the $2.6 trillion health law,” Hatch said in a statement.

“The White House’s handling of this nomination--failing to respond to repeated requests for information and circumventing the Senate through a recess appointment--has made Dr. Berwick’s confirmation next to impossible,” Hatch added.

”We won’t be withdrawing the nomination,” White House spokesman Reid Cherlin responded by e-mail.

“The president nominated Don Berwick because he’s far and away the best person for the job, and he’s already doing stellar work at CMS: saving taxpayer dollars by cracking down on fraud and implementing delivery-system reforms that will save billions in excess costs and save millions of lives.”

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