Baucus says Berwick won't be confirmed; new CMS administrator to be nominated?

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)
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.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Baucus said that senate Republicans plan to oppose Berwick regardless of circumstances, and that the senate will never vote to confirm him, according to a Modern Healthcare report. Late last week, 42 Republican senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to withdraw Berwick's nomination, setting off a whirlwind of speculation over Berwick's fate. As of press time, the Obama Administration was sticking by its re-nomination of Berwick, although various published reports also spoke of off-the-record preparations for life after Berwick in charge.

Healthcare providers have been lining up to support Berwick during what could prove the death knell of his tenure at CMS. Groups as varied as the American Public Health Association and America's Health Insurance Plans offered their support following the Republicans' letter, according to Modern Healthcare. Berwick took office last year as a recess-appointee, angering Republicans who wanted to question him at confirmation hearings that were instead bypassed.

The names of possible replacements have begun popping up in Washington. Marilyn B. Tavenner, Berwick's principle deputy, could be a confirmable possibility, according to a New York Times report on Tuesday.