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Obama Will Appoint CMS Chief While GOP Is Away

Correction Appended

Updated: July 6, 10:56 p.m.President Barack Obama intends to overcome GOP resistance to his nominee to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by making a recess appointment Wednesday.Obama nominated Dr. Donald Berwick in April to be CMS administrator, but Republicans have tied the nomination to their criticism of this year’s health care overhaul.“Many Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote Tuesday night on the White House blog in announcing the recess appointment, which would bypass the need for Senate confirmation.Pfeiffer said the administration needs a CMS chief in place to work on the mandates created under the health care overhaul.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republican Sens. John Barrasso and Pat Roberts (Kan.) attacked Berwick’s record during a colloquy on the floor in May, and 56 House Republicans wrote to Obama last month to ask him to withdraw the nomination over Berwick’s support of comparative effectiveness research. The research is used to identify treatments, and some critics equate it with rationing.McConnell was irate about the president’s planned appointment Tuesday night.“As if shoving a trillion dollar government takeover of health care down the throat of a disapproving American public wasn't enough, apparently the Obama Administration intends to arrogantly circumvent the American people yet again by recess appointing one of the most prominent advocates of rationed health care to implement their national plan,” McConnell said in a statement Tuesday night.CMS has not had a permanent administrator since 2006. Berwick has the support of previous CMS administrators of both parties, as well as the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association.

Correction: July 7, 2010

The article incorrectly reported one of the participants in a Senate floor colloquy in May criticizing the record of Donald Berwick, who was nominated to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The colloquy included Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

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