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Obama to use recess appointment to appoint new Medicare-Medicaid chief

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • President Obama will use recess appointment to name new head of agency overseeing Medicare and Medicaid
  • Sidestepping Congress means Dr. Donald Berwick's appointment will last until the end of the year
  • Republicans planned to stall Berwick's appointment in the Senate, White House blog post says

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama will sidestep Congress by using a recess appointment to make Dr. Donald Berwick the new head of the federal agency overseeing Medicare and Medicaid, the White House announced Tuesday.

In a blog post on the White House website, communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote that Obama will make the appointment on Wednesday.

According to the blog post, Republicans in Congress had indicated they would stall Berwick's nomination last April as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

A recess appointment allows the president to install Berwick while the Senate is on vacation, to serve for the rest of the congressional term, which expires at the end of the year.

Pfeiffer's blog post noted that the CMS is overseeing how Medicare and Medicaid -- the government health insurance systems for senior citizens and low-income Americans -- will incorporate the new health care reform bill passed by Congress and signed by Obama earlier this year. The agency has been without a permanent administrator since 2006, the blog post said.

Berwick is the founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and has spent decades as a practicing physician and a Harvard professor, according to the blog post.

"His deep firsthand knowledge of our health care system makes him the right administrator to tackle the law's requirements, particularly that CMS improve nursing home care, reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions, and expand coverage to millions of Americans who need it most," the blog post said.