GOP grilling expected at first hearing for controversial Medicare appointee

Donald Berwick, the controversial administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) appointed during the July recess, is scheduled for his first hearing before the Senate Finance Committee next Wednesday, Nov. 17.

Berwick became a lightning rod during the healthcare reform debate because of his past statements in favor of Great Britain's National Health Service, which Republicans say rations care. Republicans in the House and Senate have been asking for months for a chance to grill Berwick on the new law.

Berwick is scheduled to testify before the committee about the agency’s efforts to protect the Medicare program from fraud, reduce duplicative care that wastes taxpayer dollars and ensure the life of the Medicare program is extended by more than a decade, according to the Finance Committee. He'll also discuss the new tools that the healthcare reform law provides to CMS to modernize America’s healthcare system, including electronic health records, policies to reduce hospital readmissions and the CMS Innovation Center.

The hearing is titled “Strengthening Medicare and Medicaid: Taking Steps to Modernize America’s Health Care System.”