Baucus: Republicans will oppose Berwick

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Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), the lawmaker who would preside over any Donald Berwick confirmation hearing, has admitted defeat in the ongoing fight to keep Berwick in charge at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Baucus told reporters that Senate Republicans plan to oppose Berwick regardless of circumstances, and Senate confirmation is unlikely. In March, 42 Republican senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to withdraw Berwick's nomination. The correspondence set off a whirlwind of speculation over the administrator's fate.

At press time, the Obama administration was sticking by its re-nomination of Berwick, although various reports also spoke of off-the-record preparations for life after his departure. Berwick took office last year as a recess-appointee, angering Republicans who wanted to question him at Senate confirmation hearings.

Healthcare provider groups, such as the American Public Health Association and America's Health Insurance Plans, are lined up to support Berwick during what could prove the death knell of his CMS tenure. A potential Berwick replacement is Marilyn B. Tavenner, his deputy.
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