WASHINGTON BUREAU — President Obama has ignited a political firestorm by using the recess appointment process to make Dr. Donald Berwick administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
A recess appointment can bypass the Senate confirmation process.
Republicans are charging that Berwick is an advocate of health care rationing and highlighting what they say is an example of his praise of the United Kingdom’s national health system.
Berwick has said that the system “developed very good and very disciplined, scientifically grounded, policy-connected models for the evaluation of medical treatments from which we ought to learn,” according to a version of Berwick’s remarks circulated by Republicans.
Berwick was nominated by President Obama for the CMS administrator post in April. His confirmation was languishing due to Republican opposition.
Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, defended the recess appointment move.
“CMS has been without a permanent administrator since 2006, and even many Republicans have called on the administration to move to quickly to name a permanent head,” Pfeiffer said.
“There’s no question that Don Berwick is the right choice to be our next CMS administrator,” Pfeiffer said.
Berwick is president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Cambridge, Mass.; a clinical professor of pediatrics and health care policy at the Harvard Medical School; and a professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health.