Hatch, Grassley want health care answers

Published September 13, 2010 7:52 pm

Reform • Senators say administration's Medicaid, Medicare pointman must appear before them.
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Washington • With next week marking six months since President Barack Obama signed his signature health care reform legislation into law, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Charles Grassley want the administration's point man on Medicaid and Medicare to testify before Congress about the changes shaping health insurance and coverage.

Much of the Democrats' reform bill takes effect on Sept. 23, and the two top GOP senators on the Senate Finance Committee say Donald Berwick, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services must appear before them.

"As we approach this deadline, it is imperative that you become accessible to answer many crucial questions," Hatch and Grassley wrote in a letter sent Monday night. "Members of Congress and the American people simply cannot be left in the dark."

Obama tapped Berwick to head the giant agency and circumvented Congress to place him in the job while Congress was on break, angering many Republicans who questioned his statements on controversial issues.

On Monday, Berwick said that rationing care to lower health care costs is not an option and that federal bureaucrats do not have all the answers to reforming the system, according to The Associated Press. "A massive top-down, national project is not the way to do this," he said.

Hatch and Grassley charged that the lack of transparency with Berwick's nomination has raised concerns and that he should either appear before their committee or at least before a panel of interested senators.