Ber­wick tar­geted

CMS head faces off against GOP at first hear­ing

Modern Healthcare - - The Week In Healthcare - Jes­sica Zig­mond

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

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