WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama intends to use the congressional recess to bypass the Senate and appoint Dr. Donald Berwick, an expert on patient care who's drawn fire from the GOP, to oversee Medicare and Medicaid, the White House announced late Tuesday.
The appointment was to be made Wednesday, with lawmakers out of town for their annual July Fourth break, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a post on the White House blog.
The decision means Berwick can assume the post of administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services without undergoing confirmation hearings in the Senate. Republicans have indicated they're prepared to oppose him over comments he's made on rationing of medical care and other matters. Democrats want to avoid a nasty confirmation fight that could reopen the health care debate. Berwick was nominated in April but no confirmation hearing had been scheduled.
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