Congressional Republicans on Wednesday hailed the news that Donald Berwick, the embattled head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will resign early next month following a protracted fight over the former Harvard professor’s nomination.
“I’m glad the White House opted against another end run around the Senate and instead has put forward a CMS nominee that the Senate must thoroughly examine,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement.
“Any nominee to a federal agency with this much power and authority over the lives of millions of Americans must be carefully scrutinized,” Hatch added. “Republicans on the Finance Committee look forward to examining her record and gaining an understanding of her views of Medicare, Medicaid and the President’s health law.”
The White House announced Wednesday afternoon that President Obama will nominate Berwick’s current deputy, Marilyn Tavenner, for the post. Tavenner’s nomination will be subject to Senate confirmation.
Obama appointed Berwick during a congressional recess last July, a move that allowed Berwick to head the CMS through the end of the 112th Congress’s current session next month.
Republicans have strongly opposed Berwick’s nomination, charging that he has previously made remarks in favor of rationing and has praised Britain’s nationalized health-care system. In March, 42 Republican senators penned a letter to Obama asking him to withdraw his appointment of Berwick.— effectively blocking his Senate confirmation, which would require the support of 60 senators.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) charged in a statement Wednesday that Berwick’s nomination “was derailed by the administration’s unwillingness to let the nominee provide the committee with legitimate information necessary for us to serve our role in reviewing the nomination.”
“Rather than provide us with information, the administration recess appointed Berwick,” Grassley said. “Hopefully, the administration has learned from its mistake and will follow the regular process with this nomination, as part of our system of checks and balances.”
Former Virginia governor and 2012 Senate hopeful Tim Kaine (D), who tapped Tavenner to serve as Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources in 2006, praised her as “a strong choice” by Obama.
“(Tavenner) served in my administration with dedication during a very challenging time,” Kaine said in a statement. “Her private sector expertise helped her play an instrumental role in slashing Virginia’s infant mortality rate, transforming our foster care system and helping us ban smoking in state buildings, restaurants and bars. And, in a time of declining state revenues and a struggling economy, she helped reduce Medicaid costs in smart ways through program improvements, focus on preventive care and creative use of technology.”
Berwick’s resignation is set to take effect on Dec. 2.
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