Lawmakers Urge Obama To Replace Berwick as CMS Administrator
U.S. lawmakers are urging President Obama to replace Donald Berwick as CMS administrator, noting that the Senate likely will not confirm his re-nomination, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 3/7).Â Â
Background on Berwick
Berwick has occupied the post since July 2010, when Obama chose to sidestep the traditional confirmation process by using "recess appointment" procedures. As a recess appointee, Berwick has all the powers of a permanent appointee, but he can serve only until the end of 2011 and must be re-nominated and confirmed by the Senate. The Obama administration in January re-nominated Berwick.
Berwick -- who served as president and CEO of the Institute for Health Care Improvement and was a Harvard University professor -- is best known for helping hospitals use standardized procedures to improve quality.
Since Berwick's nomination was announced in April 2010, Republicans have alleged that he supports rationing care and the socialization of the U.S. health care system and complained that they have had few opportunities to question him (California Healthline, 1/27). In February, Berwick in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing denied supporting rationing and socialized medicine for the U.S. health system (California Healthline, 2/11).
In a letter sent last week, 42 GOP senators asked Obama to withdraw his nomination of Berwick as CMS administrator (New York Times, 3/7).
White House Responds
White House spokesperson Reid Cherlin said Obama would not withdraw Berwick's nomination. "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," Cherlin said.
It remains unclear whether the White House will fight for the nomination or urge the Senate Finance Committee to convene another confirmation hearing (New York Times, 3/7).
Medical Groups Continue To Back Berwick
Representatives from the American Hospital Association, Medical Group Management Association, America's Health Insurance Plans and the American Public Health Association said they continue to support Berwick's nomination for CMS administrator (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 3/7).
Berwick's Deputy Emerges as Potential Replacement
According to the Times, Marilyn Tavenner, Berwick's principal deputy, has emerged as a possible replacement candidate after Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Monday said she likely could be confirmed. Tavenner, a nurse, formerly was the Virginia secretary of health and human resources and worked for more than 20 years at the Hospital Corporation of America, where she eventually became the president of the system's outpatient services group (New York Times, 3/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.