WASHINGTON, June 1 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Republicans say they'll challenge President Obama's choice of Donald Berwick to run Medicare and Medicaid in the new healthcare system.
Berwick, a pediatrician, is a supporter of the government-run healthcare system practiced in Britain, Politico reported. During the bruising and heated healthcare debate, Obama insisted he did not want the U.S. system to duplicate the British system.
Berwick has called Britain's National Health Services "one of the greatest healthcare institutions in human history" and an example for the United States, the Washington publication said.
"He is, as far as I am concerned, bad news," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "If he wants to turn America into the National Health Service in England -- he thinks that is the model -- he is going to find a lot of push-back."
Democratic senators and healthcare activists warned White House officials to be prepared to vigorously defend Berwick, who is considered a U.S. pioneer in helping healthcare professionals provide improved care at a lower cost, Politico said.
In a meeting between the Senate Democratic Caucus and presidential advisers, Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said he alerted the White House.
"I have warned them specifically to be prepared," Whitehouse told Politico. "It looks like the Republicans are gunning for this guy, and I hope you have yourself prepared to defend him. He has a wonderful story to tell that Americans would be very proud of if they knew it."
White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said the GOP was using Berwick's nomination as an "excuse to re-fight healthcare."