Democrats Abandon Donald Berwick's Nomination to Top Medicare and Medicaid Post
2:15 PM, Mar 5, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
According to Politico, President Obama will be forced to abandon his controversial nomination of Donald Berwick as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Politico reports that “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,” as “there's no way for Berwick to get the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.”
As with his various “czars,” President Obama had previously circumvented the Senate confirmation process (despite having a Democratically controlled Senate) to install Berwick in his post. He had done so by issuing a “recess appointment,” but that appointment expires at the end of this year.
As I wrote last spring, the Berwick nomination is one of the clearest indicators of where we are headed if ObamaCare is not repealed:
Lest anyone think I was exaggerating, Berwick has written that the British health-care system is “more likely to succeed” than the American one; that he feels “an optimism about the [British] NHS [National Health System] that is hard to find in the UK nowadays”; that he thinks “nationalized health care was a wise choice in 1948 and that it remains so now”; that “the social budget” — the social budget! — “is limited”; and that “[t]he decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” This is who President Obama wants to have running Medicare, Medicaid, and significant portions of ObamaCare.
It looks like the Constitution’s confirmation process will serve as a bulwark against President Obama’s desires in this instance, although it’s unlikely that his next nominee will hold views that are radically different from Berwick’s or his own. (That new nominee almost certainly will, however, have been more careful about publicly expressing those views). But Obama’s failure to get his Berwick nomination through the Democratic Senate doesn’t change the fact that Obama chose someone like Berwick in the first place, or the fact that he circumvented the usual process to install him in the short-term. Nor does it change what the Berwick nomination tells us about the direction in which Obama thinks ObamaCare would and should take American health care.