- Egypt rights center raided, 2 Mubaraks acquitted
- New Mexico Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage constitutional
- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
- John McCain to Harry Reid: I’ll ‘kick the crap’ out of you
- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
- Britain orders airplane to rescue citizens from violent South Sudan
- Mega Millions winner emerges as Georgia mom, in ‘disbelief’
Medicare chief grilled on the Hill
Question of the Day
Senate Republicans Tuesday took aim at President Obama's choice to oversee a key component of his health care overhaul plan, complaining about the way the choice was made and the lack of time given to lawmakers to question him.
The Senate Finance Committee hearing was the first Capitol Hill public appearance by Donald M. Berwick, the Harvard Medical School professor who now heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A lightning-rod for criticism for some of his past comments on health care rationing and economics, Mr. Berwick was named to the post this summer by Mr. Obama as a "recess appointment" — bypassing an expected Senate confirmation fight.
Republicans on the committee complained that, having finally gotten a chance to interrogate Mr. Berwick, the hearing was limited to an hour and each senator was only given five minutes for questions.
"This is pathetic," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican. "My gosh, we ought to have time to ask the most important man in America on health care some questions."
Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grasssley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance panel, noted that it had been 134 days since Mr. Berwick was appointed to the job and Wednesday was the first day to question him in public session.
Trying to learn about implementation of the massive health care overhaul package plan in a one-hour hearing "is like trying to drain the Pacific Ocean with a thimble," Mr. Grassley said. "This can't just be a check-the-box exercise."
Sen. Jim Bunning, Kentucky Republican, said Mr. Berwick should get accustomed to testifying on Capitol Hill, predicting the the new GOP-led House of Representatives will be closely following his agency's work next year.
Asked why he agreed to a recess appointment from Mr. Obama, Mr. Berwick said it was "because the president asked me and I want to serve my country." He said he had responded to lawmakers' requests for information and clarity and had accepted every invitation from individual legislators for private meetings.
Facing far more friendly questioning from Senate Democrats, Mr. Berwick strongly defended Mr. Obama's health care overhaul plan. He said the law had already delivered a number of benefits, including help for seniors facing the dreaded "doughtnut hole" gap in purchasing prescription drugs under Medicare and employing more investigators and resources to root out Medicare fraud and abuse.
Asked by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, about talk among Republicans in Congress about repealing the new health care law in 2011, Mr. Berwick replied, "I can't think of a worse plan than repealing this law."
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.
At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...
- SANDS: Anand returns, Nakamura shines in London rapid chess battle
- SANDS: Nelson Mandela at the chessboard: A prisoner's solace
- SANDS: Shark attack: Miami wins first U.S. Chess League title
- SANDS: Magnus Carlsen's future bright as the new king of chess
- Norway's Magnus Carlsen wins world chess title
Latest Blog Entries
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Fourth Amendment says Obama is not at liberty to collect metadata
- Calling sentence disparities unfair, Obama pardons 8 crack offenders
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson suspended indefinitely for gay quip
- Bill Gates: The Secret Santa disguised as a 'friendly fellow' on Reddit
- Armed response, not restrictive gun laws, brought swift end to school shooting
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- Democrats cite pope in call for minimum wage hike, jobless benefits
- Outrage over Phil Robertson suspension, 'malignant' political correctness
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
Crystal Wright is a black conservative woman living in Washington, D.C.
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow