Obama Bypassing Senate for New Medicare Chief

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President Barack Obama has indicated he will be using a recess appointment to bypass Congress over a controversial health care nominee.

Sidestepping Senate hearings, the president is planning to appoint Dr. Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid, a White House official said Tuesday.

Berwick, a 63-year-old pediatrician and Harvard University professor, has drawn fire from Republican lawmakers regarding comments he made on rationing health care.

"The decision is not whether or not we will ration care - the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly," Berwick said in an interview last year.

Democrats want to avoid a nasty confirmation fight that would reopen the healthcare debate that has outraged so many Americans.

"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," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote in a posting on the White House blog.

"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," Pfeiffer wrote.

Berwick is expected to be appointed by the president on Wednesday.

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