By Mike Lillis - 07/29/10 10:23 PM EDT
Donald Berwick, the newly installed Medicare chief, might have escaped a formal Senate grill-session when he was recess-appointed earlier this month. But that doesn't mean upper-chamber Republicans intend to drop the issue.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday pressed Berwick directly for information surrounding the funding of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), the Harvard-based non-profit founded by Berwick almost 20 years ago.
In a July 29 letter, Grassley, the senior Republican of the Finance Committee, said Berwick had agreed to provide the funding information when the two met in June, but Berwick has yet to comply.
"The public has the right to know whether the numerous and significant policy decisions that you make are vulnerable to these potential conflicts of financial interest," Grassley wrote.
"Please be assured that my request for this information remains despite your recess appointment. The requested information goes to the heart of the issue of whether you are able to execute your significant responsibilities as CMS Administrator in a fair and impartial manner."
Grassley is asking for the IHI’s "last three Forms 990, including Schedules B."
Additionally, the Iowa Republican wants assurances that Berwick has taken steps to avoid conflicts of interest, as outlined in an April letter to ethics officials at the Health and Human Services Department.
"In addition," Grassley writes, "please indicate whether IHI continues to provide benefits to you and your family including health care coverage."
Grassley has requested all the information by Aug. 13.