With last weeks recess appointment, we will have to learn Berwicks vision for health care only after CMS decisions are rendered, a far cry from the openness promised by then-candidate Obama. Two other doctors who serve in the House and I recently wrote to Obama objecting to Berwicks proposals that would prevent doctors from practicing in some regions and restrict patients access to needed medications. These concerns were never answered.
Just four years ago, the editorial page of the New York Times called such recess appointments a constitutional gimmick and an end run around Senate confirmation. However, last week the same editorial page called the same gimmick a sensible move. Berwick assumes control of an agency in charge of $803 billion in vital benefits so Americans rightly should expect questions to be asked and questions to be answered.
In 2005, then-Sen. Obama suggested a recess appointee lacked credibility because of the truncated term and lack of consensus. Berwicks view of health care and his appointment without any public vetting casts doubt on his term even before it begins.
Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a heart surgeon, is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, with jurisdiction over Medicare and tax policy.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.