On Tuesday evening at 7:42 p.m. EST, the White House announced on its official blog that President Barack Obama was planning Wednesday to use the option of the recess appointment in order to bypass Congress and install Donald M. Berwick, M.D., his nominee for administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in that position. According to the online statement, posted by Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, "In April, President Obama nominated Dr. Donald Berwick to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Many Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points. But with the agency facing new responsibilities to protect seniors' care under the Affordable Care Act, there's no time to waste with Washington game-playing. That's why tomorrow the President will use a recess appointment to put Dr. Berwick at the agency's helm and provide strong leadership for the Medicare program without delay."
As a recess appointee, Berwick would have all the powers of a permanent appointee, but his appointment would expire at the end of the next session of Congress, in late 2011.
The White House's online statement went on to note that CMS has been without a permanent administrator since 2006. Healthcare Informatics will update this information for readers as developments unfold this week. For a link to the online announcement, please go here.