Some documents on Donald Berwick, the new head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

A couple of writings of Dr. Berwick are here and here. He claimed that government can run the health care system so much more efficiently than private providers.

The Washington Times has this information on Berwick's padded CV.

A NY Times piece that is useful is here discusses rationing.

Krauthammer on "Democrats Don't Want Health Care Debated Again"

From the Hill:

"Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power and protects Montanans and all Americans by ensuring that crucial questions are asked of the nominee — and answered," Baucus said in a statement.

Transcript of yesterday's WH press briefing:

Q Can I ask one question about Dr. Berwick? Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on Senate Finance, said that he requested that Berwick be given a hearing a couple weeks ago. And obviously, Chairman Baucus did not schedule that. Republicans say they were eager to have the hearing. They wanted to talk about Dr. Berwick’s views and things he said in the past, and it was Democrats who flinched.

MR. GIBBS: Well, Jake, two things. We have -- whether everyone likes it or not, we’ve passed a very important Affordable Care Act, many things of which have to be implemented by the beginning of next year. Whether it’s Medicare and Medicaid innovation, whether it’s increased investment in health IT technology to ensure greater cost savings and greater quality of care, so we need somebody on the job now.

I think if you look at the appointments process such as it has been over the past 18 months, I'm not entirely sure somehow that a hearing was the hurdle. We have had more nominees waiting longer than any administration in recent history. Martha Johnson, who’s probably not a name you know -- she’s the head of the -- she’s the administrator for the General Services Administration -- it took her 10 months to be confirmed to a job of which certainly I can’t recount that her nomination or her name derived some great controversy. Yet it took 10 months and the vote was unanimous.

Q I'm not talking about Martha Johnson, I'm talking about Dr. Berwick.

MR. GIBBS: And I'm talking about a process that is clearly broken; that the President currently has a total of 189 nominees pending before the Senate. The Senate generally has acted on the President’s nominations one or two days before a recess. We have people that are waiting -- 49 of those nominees have been pending for more than six months.

There is no doubt, Jake, that there is a process up on Capitol Hill right now that was not in any danger of moving forward in a way that was quick enough and needed somebody at HHS to run CMS -- that is an important job. This is somebody who has been -- who all involved say is uniquely qualified. And by that I mean the last two CMS -- the last two people that had run CMS from the Bush administration both strongly supported Dr. Berwick’s appointment.

Q But Republicans say Berwick supports health care rationing. That's why they wanted the hearing. I mean, is that true? What’s your reaction to that criticism?

MR. GIBBS: I think that Dr. Berwick made the point that we have rationing right now; that health insurance companies are deciding, based on their bottom line, who gets care. Dr. Berwick -- I doubt if Dr. Berwick was a supporter of whatever theory that is supposed to be, that Mark McClellan and Tom Scully, the previous CMS administrators for the Bush administration, would support his nomination.

Again, I think it’s the type of politics that demonstrates just how badly broken the appointments process is. And the President is going to install people that need to be installed for this government to run effective and efficiently. In this case, because the appointments process is clearly broken, he did so through a recess appointment.

Q Did you want to avoid a hearing because of some of Dr. Berwick’s statements on income redistribution, on praise for the national health service of Britain?

MR. GIBBS: No. The President appointed somebody who he believed -- and people, both Democrats and Republicans believed -- was uniquely and supremely to run an agency of the size of CMS.

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