Berwick's Medicare Job Looking Short-Lived

Donald M. Berwick, the longtime Harvard health care quality guru now heading Medicare and Medicaid, may not have the job for all that long.

Berwick was named by President Obama to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last July in a controversial recess appointment. He has drawn Republican ire ever since, including criticism that he's too big a fan of the British health care system.

Now, reports here that Democrats have given up on winning his confirmation, meaning he'd be out of his job by the end of this year:

Senate Democrats have given up on confirming Don Berwick as CMS administrator in the wake of a letter from 42 Republican senators opposing the nomination, sources tell POLITICO.

Citing the GOP letter, a person familiar with the situation said Senate Democrats and the White House "can do the arithmetic" and now see that there's no way for Berwick to get the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.

At a meeting with health care lobbyists Friday, Democratic Senate Finance Committee staffers indicated that the nomination is dead, that there will be no confirmation hearing, and that they'll soon be discussing "next steps" for CMS, sources said.

In a letter Thursday, 42 GOP senators asked President Barack Obama to withdraw the nomination of Berwick, who received a recess appointment in July and was renominated in January.

This program aired on March 7, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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