Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Obama Recess Appoints Donald Berwick as ObamaCare Czar

Republicans were quick to point out that Berwick is a rationing expert; something opponents of the law said it would force. It is hard for them to decry the act of recess appointment since it is something both parties use. What is interesting about this one is that Obama did not use it to get Berwick past a Republican block, but to avoid debate on health care.

"President Barack Obama bypassed the Senate Wednesday and appointed Dr. Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor and patient care specialist, to run Medicare and Medicaid.

The decision to use a so-called recess appointment to install Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services drew immediate fire from the GOP. Republicans have raised concerns about Berwick's views on rationing of care and other matters and said it was wrong for Obama to go around the normal Senate confirmation process. That view was echoed by a key Democratic committee chairman, although the recess appointment is a tool used by presidents of both parties.

Berwick has wide support in the medical community but some Democrats feared the GOP would use his confirmation hearings as an opportunity to reopen last year's divisive health care debate. Obama defended the decision to appoint Berwick and two other officials, one to a pension board and the other to a White House science post.

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