Amid swirling speculation that his nomination battle is lost, CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick said his "attention is on the job.” Berwick, who serves under a recess appointment, told reporters Tuesday that he was grateful for the White House support he has received since 42 Republican senators asked President Barack Obama in a letter last week to remove Berwick from consideration.
Because that number of votes in opposition would block the Senate from approving Berwick to head the CMS, there is some speculation that the president will ask Berwick to step aside. Asked whether he has met with any of those Republican senators to address their concerns about him—concerns that stem in part from Berwick's past praise of the single-payer British health system—Berwick would not specify.
Separately, in comments during the Washington meeting of America's Health Insurance Plans, Berwick acknowledged that some clinicians are "frightened” about a loss of control over patient care because of changes coming through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But he assured clinicians that they will actually gain control, through measures such as improved care coordination among clinicians treating the same patient.
Berwick also urged insurers to suggest better ways federal health officials can combat the “serious” problem of fraud.