WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- Donald Berwick was sworn in Monday as head of the U.S. agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid amid persistent political squabbling about his appointment.
President Barack Obama appointed Berwick last week, while the Senate was in recess, to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The move averted the need for Senate confirmation hearings on the nomination.
In making the appointment, the president accused Senate Republicans of delaying the appointment for political reasons.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Monday the administration avoided the confirmation hearing process out of fear the public would reject Berwick's "well-known views about government-run care about how he plans to implement the president's plan to cut a half-trillion dollars from Medicare while limiting the choices seniors now enjoy."
Two Senate Democrats -- Dick Durban of Illinois and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island -- defended the appointment, Modern Healthcare reported.
Whitehouse said Berwick is "simply, hands down" the best choice to run CMS and apply provisions of healthcare reform legislation "both vigorously and wisely."