Senator Chuck Grassley made the following statement about the letter from 42 Republican senators to the President regarding the nomination of Dr. Donald Berwick to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Grassley served as Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance from 2001-2010. Today he is a senior member of the committee.
"I signed the letter this week asking the President to withdraw the nomination of Dr. Berwick because of the administration's delay of nearly a year in responding to a straightforward information request. The information sought is directly relevant to the nominee and the position to which he's been appointed.
"Before Dr. Berwick's nomination, he led the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. This institute has numerous health care companies both as clients and donors. The public has a right to know about financial relationships in the nominee's most recent professional work. So, during the initial nomination review last June, my staff asked Dr. Berwick to provide the Institute's three most recent Forms 990, including Schedules B, which details donors and donation amounts. Dr. Berwick agreed to comply with this request. Dr. Berwick even agreed to have my staff meet with the Institute's chief financial officer to make sure the financial information provided was accurate and complete.
"Well, now it's March 2011, and the information still hasn't been provided. No chief financial officers have come for a meeting. When I ask the administration about the request, I'm now told Dr. Berwick no longer works for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, so he's no longer in a position to provide the information. That strikes me as a disingenuous position by the administration, and it's in direct contradiction to the commitment made by Dr. Berwick. In fact, the administration's decision to recess appoint Dr. Berwick and then claim he can no longer provide information sets an unacceptable precedent.
"Dr. Berwick's recess appointment by the President subverted the Senate's constitutional prerogative of Advise and Consent, but it did not subvert the Senate's obligation of oversight in our system of checks and balances. I thought Dr. Berwick should have an opportunity to stand before the Finance Committee, but that hasn't happened, and the information request has been disregarded. The administration badly mishandled a nomination that deserved thorough and thoughtful consideration. The casualty is accountability. I can't support Senate consideration of this nomination under these circumstances."