July 7th, 2010
08:36 AM ET
4 years ago

Obama to use recess appointment for new Medicare-Medicaid chief

In a blog post on the White House website, communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote that President Obama will use a recess appointment to make Dr. Donald Berwick the head of Medicare and Medicaid.
In a blog post on the White House website, communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote that President Obama will use a recess appointment to make Dr. Donald Berwick the head of Medicare and Medicaid.

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama will sidestep Congress by using a recess appointment to make Dr. Donald Berwick the new head of the federal agency overseeing Medicare and Medicaid, the White House announced Tuesday.

In a blog post on the White House website, communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote that Obama will make the appointment on Wednesday.

According to the blog post, Republicans in Congress had indicated they would stall Berwick's nomination last April as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

A recess appointment allows the president to install Berwick while the Senate is on vacation, to serve for the rest of the congressional term, which expires at the end of the year.


Pfeiffer's blog post noted that the CMS is overseeing how Medicare and Medicaid - the government health insurance systems for senior citizens and low-income Americans - will incorporate the new health care reform bill passed by Congress and signed by Obama earlier this year. The agency has been without a permanent administrator since 2006, the blog post said.

Berwick is the founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and has spent decades as a practicing physician and a Harvard professor, according to the blog post.

"His deep firsthand knowledge of our health care system makes him the right administrator to tackle the law's requirements, particularly that CMS improve nursing home care, reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions, and expand coverage to millions of Americans who need it most," the blog post said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, objected to the administration's decision.

"As if shoving a trillion dollar government takeover of health care down the throat of a disapproving American public wasn't enough, apparently the Obama Administration intends to arrogantly circumvent the American people yet again by recess appointing one of the most prominent advocates of rationed health care to implement their national plan," he said in a statement.

"Democrats haven't scheduled so much as a committee hearing for Donald Berwick but the mere possibility of allowing the American people the opportunity to hear what he intends to do with their health care is evidently reason enough for this Administration to sneak him through without public scrutiny," added McConnell.


Filed under: Donald Berwick • President Obama
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Greg Pottstown PA

    "President Barack Obama will sidestep Congress"

    no big surprise, Obama is pro at the Congressional sidestep.

    July 7, 2010 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  2. Terry from West Texas

    The name for what Republicans are doing is "subversion."
    "A deliberate and underhanded effort to defeat or do harm to an endeavor"

    They want America's elected government to fail in its efforts to solve the nation's problems. They want Americans to suffer as a result. They hope that angry (and not too smart) Americans will vote Republican out of frustration with government. This is the disloyal opposition.

    July 7, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  3. Bertina

    If McConnell was concerned about recess appointments he would have objected to others made by republican presidents.

    July 7, 2010 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  4. Doc

    The job has been open since 2006. You had a chance to fill it and you balked. Now when the choice is no longer in your hands to make or object to you want to throw a tantrum?
    Time for someone to take the unruly, immature, party of NO to the woodshed for a good spanking.

    July 7, 2010 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  5. Deborah/Kansas City

    Way to get things done. Republicans just filibuster and say no to everything and then complain that things aren't getting done. How can things get done when no people can be put inplace to run important departments and managers. Shame on Republicans. The only way to get things done is to vote them all out next November and give the Democrats a filibuster proof majority.

    July 7, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Maybe Congress should take more time off. That seems like the only time the President can get things moving in Washington.

    July 7, 2010 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  7. Jane

    Imagine that sneak another loser in under the wire.

    July 7, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  8. Seattle Sue

    I don't recall Mitch(wax face) McConnell ever blasting G.W. Bush for making recess appointments. I guess it's o k if you are a Republican President. Beside the fact that Republicans bragged they would stall the nomination last April. The Party of NO, Party first country way last.

    July 7, 2010 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  9. glenda

    It's time the President goes ahead and does what ever it takes to appoint who he wants to the Offices that have been left vacant because of the Republicans holding up these nominee's all for political reasons.......the Republicans are going to continue to stonewall these nominations so Obama should take this opportunity to elect who he wants....All the Presidents have done it in the passed so whats the big deal......if the Republicans didn't want this guy they should have let it come before the Senators and had their debate, maybe they could have had enough votes to vote him down.......but this is the path the GOP has taken and so be it........now live with it and shut your trap......

    July 7, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. sonny chapman

    I wonder where he learned that move ?

    July 7, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  11. Independent

    How about that??? How many times did President Bush do that??? I know or remember of 2...it could be more....

    July 7, 2010 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  12. jp,michigan

    We better check out this persons past . Like the majority of the President picks, some thing is a mist in the past history of the individual. Why would the President sneek in his choice? The games one plays to fool all of the American people.

    July 7, 2010 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  13. S Callahan

    This is freaky....one of the more powerful positions not being vetted for the people is well, just wrong. Hold off ... let our elected officals do their job 'for the people'.

    July 7, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  14. Ron

    "Hope and Change" and "our administration will have transparency". Are you kidding me? Obama has treated every one on you that voted for him like fools and idiots. Some of you now know you were played and recognize you were tricked. I forgive you and hope you will help us in fixing this mess that Obama and his administration has created. Those of you who still don't recognize you were tricked are still fools and idiots....

    July 7, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  15. Ron in california

    Didn't the Dems cry foul when Bush did this???

    July 7, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  16. Rick CT

    Change we can believe in

    July 7, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  17. Jim

    OK, Mr. McConnell, promise the President an up or down vote on nominees with no blocks, and you won't get recess appointments. The fact is Republicans are holding up everything that they possibly can and it makes sense that they want the new health care law to fail. They see undermining our President as their road to success and its shameful.

    July 7, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  18. Annie, Atlanta

    Good for him. It's about time he start doing this. How many positions are still unfilled because Republicans want to see us fail so we turn to them in November? And don't they know we're on to this tactic and really don't appreciate it at such a critical time? Why do they want to destroy us? This should be covered more in the media.

    July 7, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  19. Tall Ed

    Bush did this too. It's not a big deal. The Republicans can't stop it with a vote they can only shut-down the Senate and delay any forward progress. I am glad Obama is doing this. I would suggest that he keeps doing this entil the Republicans come to the table wanting to vote, not wanting to stall.

    July 7, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  20. lovable liberal

    Kill the filibuster.

    July 7, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  21. Rick McDaniel

    The dictator will skirt the system once again, to have his way, without any opposition.

    July 7, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Rick

    just another tax cheat in the slobama administration, there are more crooks in this administration than there were in hitlers regime. whats next obama, putting numbers on our foreheads and retraining our kids to praise the idiot you. soon your time will come and pay backs are .......

    July 7, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  23. Tim

    Obama is a liar, thief, racist, and just happens to be the biggest mistake in U.S. history. I am a black man and I voted for Obama, but he is taking half a trillion dollars away from my mothers medicare, and that is just wrong. My mother and all seniors deserve to be treated better than the way Obama is treating them. And now this, he sneaks in a despicable human being who is an open advocate of rationing health care to seniors, he views seniors like my mother as the problem with health care, so he will simply deny certain services that seniors need to live, that is how he thinks we can save money in Medicare, by denying seniors life saving services. This makes me sick, I cant' wait until November so we can start to make America a nice place again, where politicians actually care about the people they represent.

    July 7, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  24. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Why not? Everything about this corrupt theft of money from hard working Americans has been done without telling the truth, so what other option would an inept, corrupt, union toady president have? He and the vermin that surround, control and adore him cannot stand a light being shone on their lying thievery. Don't believe the state run media stories that people are accepting this, it's just party propaganda and wishful thinking and of course the Obozo lapdogs believe it.

    July 7, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  25. RJ

    Mitch, the same old man out of touch with the American people.

    July 7, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
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