GOP might have votes to block Berwick re-nomination as Medicare, Medicaid chief

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CMS Administrator Donald Berwick
CMS Administrator Donald Berwick
Senate Republicans might have enough votes to block the re-nomination of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick, it was revealed late last week.

A large majority of Senate Republicans—42 out of 47—sent a letter to President Obama last week insisting that he withdraw his nomination of Berwick to the top spot at CMS. Berwick was appointed CMS administrator through a recess appointment in June of 2010 after Senate Republicans threatened contentious hearings and potential rejection. With the recess appointment set to expire at the end of 2011, the senate must confirm Berwick's nomination or he will lose his post.

Forty-one votes are needed to block Berwick's nomination, and with 42 signatories on the letter, it appears Republican opponents may be able to do it, according to reports from the capital. Since his appointment, Berwick has been central to the implementation of the new healthcare reform law. His departure would be a blow to the Obama administration and reform efforts, many observers believe.

The White House has refused to withdraw the nomination, arguing that Berwick is "far and away the best person for the job," the Associated Press reportedff. Before assuming his current role at CMS, Berwick served as president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, where he advocated for improving quality of care while reducing costs.

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