U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today criticized the recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick as the new administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). A recess appointment allows Dr. Berwick to assume the Nation's top health care post without undergoing public confirmation hearings in the United States Senate.
"It is deeply troubling that rather than going through the standard nomination process as required by the U.S. Constitution, the White House has chosen a recess appointment for Dr. Berwick," Lance said. "The United States Senate should at least have had an opportunity to question Dr. Berwick about the new health care law and his past comments on the British health care system and the possible rationing of health care."
As a recess appointee, Dr. Berwick will have all the powers of a permanent appointee. But under the Constitution, his appointment will expire at the end of the next session of Congress, in late 2011.
According to news reports Dr. Berwick has praised Britain's National Health Service, and he told an interviewer last year: "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."
Dr. Berwick added that wealthy individuals must redistribute their wealth to those less fortunate for health care funding. Also during this speech, he told those in attendance that he opposes free markets.
"The head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be responsible for the large entitlement programs and will also play an enormous role in the implementation of the new health care law. Congress and the American People deserved a full and open hearing on the confirmation of Dr. Donald Berwick," Lance concluded.