House GOP leaders request Berwick hearing

Republican leaders on the House Ways and Means Committee are requesting a hearing to examine Donald Berwick, the new head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Berwick, a Harvard-based pediatrician installed last week by a controversial recess appointment, was sworn in Monday.

In a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), the Republicans argue implementation of the Democrats’ new healthcare reform law is too enormous a task not to know more about the official charged with facilitating a large portion of it.

"Considering the significant impact the new laws will have on the Medicare program and the critical role the CMS administrator will have in implementing these cuts, we are very surprised that President Obama chose to circumvent the normal confirmation process," the GOP leaders wrote. "In doing so, members of Congress and the American people were denied the opportunity to hear Dr. Berwick’s testimony and learn how he intends to ensure that seniors’ access to care is preserved.”

The Ways and Means Health Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing next week on CMS’s new “meaningful use” rules governing providers’ adoption of medical technologies. There’s no word yet if Berwick will appear before that panel.