White House: Berwick recess appointment key to 'move forward'

White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod defended the recess appointment of Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, saying it was a necessary move to fill a key position in the healthcare system.

"We have 140 or more appointees still waiting for confirmation for months and months and months, even on nominess that the Republicans ended up voting for," Axelrod said on "Fox News Sunday."

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He brushed off questions about concerns the administration would have had subjecting Berwick to congressional scrutiny, given Berwick's past statements about being "romantic" about the nationalized healthcare system in Britain and his 2009 statement that "the decision is not whether or not we will ration care – the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

"It is very, very clear that this nomination was going to be one that was going to be dragged on and on and on," Axelrod said, adding that it was "vital" to fill the position and "move forward."

"He is not coming to implement the British system," Axelrod said.


Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said on Fox that "clearly" the White House was anticipating a big fight over Berwick, "but that's no reason not to put their nominee out in public to defend his positions."

"He is not the right man for the job," Kyl said. "Had his nomination come up during the healthcare debate, can you imagine the hue and cry that would have occurred?"