Brownback: Obama's Pick to Run Medicare, Medicaid 'Not a Person Who Should Be Appointed to This Job'

By Nicholas Ballasy | July 20, 2010 | 12:11 PM EDT

( -- Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) told that Dr. Donald Berwick, who President Barack Obama recess-appointed to run the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, is “not a person who should be appointed” to the job.
On Capitol Hill, asked Brownback, “On July 1, 2008, in a speech commemorating the 60th anniversary of Britain’s single-payer health care system, Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama’s recess-appointee to run Medicare, said the following, ‘Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must – must -- redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate.’ Do you agree with that or disagree with that?”

Brownback said, “Well, there are a number of things that Dr. Berwick has said that I disagree with that I don’t think are accurate, and the process here of his appointment is something that I find the most offensive. He’s been voted against by the Senate and then gets appointed, nonetheless, in a recess situation -- didn’t have a real input from the Senate, as well. So, I think, just the sum total of both the substance and the process on this nominee have really said, ‘This is not a person who should be appointed to this job.’”
Brownback’s office did answer requests for comment on what the senator meant by saying Dr. Berwick was “voted against” in the Senate. President Obama sent Dr. Berwick’s nomination to the Senate on April 19, but Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, did not schedule a confirmation hearing for Berwick. 
Then, on July 7, while Congress was away for the July 4 vacation, Obama recess-appointed Berwick to run the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). also asked Brownback if he would have voted for Berwick had he been given the opportunity.
Brownback said, “Would vote against him, on it, with these sorts of statements that he’s made. I do not think this is the sort of philosophy that we should be having in that position.”
Brownback also said, “Chairman Baucus wasn’t appreciative of his [Berwick’s] appointment this way either. I have not spoken with him, but you look at his public comments that he’s made, [they] have been that way.”
Baucus has expressed disappointment in the recess appointment.
In a statement released on July 7, Baucus said: "I’m troubled that, rather than going through the standard confirmation process, Dr. Berwick was recess appointed. Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power and protects Montanans and all Americans by ensuring that crucial questions are asked of the nominee — and answered.”