A “controversial” appointment

So, yesterday, Obama used his recess appointment power to appoint Don Berwick as the head of Medicare and Medicaid Services (an obscure, but very important job).  Berwick is a very “controversial” appointment according to several stories I read/listened to.  Why?  Well, let’s see, for this important medical policy post, he’s supported by:  doctors, insurance companies, hospitals, the AARP, his predecessor under George W. Bush, and health policy wonks everywhere.

Well, he’s not supported by Republicans in the Senate, who have decided he needs 60 votes for confirmation (mmmm, democracy).  Apparently, he’s made favorable comments about the British National health service (which just happens to deliver care more efficiently than about anybody) and the following comment, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly,” which anybody who actually knows health care policy understands is absolutely true.

So, instead of having what could almost be described as the perfect person for the job (seriously, who gets support from all of those different groups?) we have to use the back door recess appointment that will expire because the Republicans in the Senate are b) really ignorant about health policy; and b) determined to filibuster everything (yes, requiring 60 votes is a filibuster whether the media reports it that way or not).  Yuck.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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