Medicare Administrator Donald Berwick will face critics of President Barack Obama’s health- care overhaul next week, his first appearance before Congress since he was appointed in a process that bypassed the Senate.
Berwick will testify at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, and the Medicaid program for the poor, the panel said today in a statement. Republicans such as the panel’s ranking member, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, for months have said they want to question Berwick on the health-care law.
Berwick doesn’t have plans to testify before the House of Representatives, where Republicans take control in January after winning a majority in elections on Nov. 2. He manages the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, controlling a projected $962 billion this year.
“We expect to get to know Mr. Berwick very well,” Sage Eastman, a spokesman for Republican Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, said in an e-mail today. Camp is in line to take over the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees Medicare.
Berwick was named to the post in a recess appointment while Congress was out of session in July, bypassing the traditional Senate confirmation process.
The overhaul would reduce the growth of spending in Medicare and Medicaid by about $455 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the accounting arm of Congress.
Jessica Santillo, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, of which Medicare is a part, said that Berwick decided to testify after being invited by Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who chairs the Finance Committee.
“There are a lot of questions that he’ll need to answer next week,” said Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, in an e-mail. Hatch is in line to be the ranking Republican on the finance panel next year.
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