CMS head faces off against GOP at first hearing
Donald Berwick is many things: a Harvard-trained pediatrician, a former professor of health policy and management at that same university, a co-founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. But GOP members of Congress still are eager to point out one thing he’s not: confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve in his current role as CMS administrator.
That issue came up repeatedly in Berwick’s first congressional committee appearance, when he testified before the influential Senate Finance Committee on Nov. 17. Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) noted that the CMS has more than 4,400 employees and an annual budget of more than $700 billion—which is larger than the Pentagon’s—and that Berwick has one of the most important jobs in government today. The fact that Berwick was recess-appointed without a hearing, Grassley said, “contradicts promises made by candidate Obama about having the most open and transparent administration in history.”
President Barack Obama appointed Berwick to become CMS administrator in July while Congress was in recess, so he never had a formal hearing and was not confirmed.
Grassley also asked Berwick a question about the senator’s request in August for the three most recent 990 forms from the IHI, which Berwick co-founded in 1989. Berwick responded that he had tried to provide all the