President Barack Obama in Jacksonville (Pic via Wikimedia Commons)
President Barack Obama in Jacksonville (Pic via Wikimedia Commons)

Conservatives slam Obama’s Medicare and Medicaid Services appointee

By | 07.27.11 | 4:30 pm

Donald Berwick, the administrator for the federal government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), was recently singled out in a policy memo drafted by a conservative policy leader for being “too radical.”

In his position as CMS administrator, Berwick has played a major role in defending access to services such as family planning for Medicaid beneficiaries as states seek to restrict access for political reasons.

Most notably, Berwick sent a letter to Indiana health officials notifying them that their plans to defund Planned Parenthood in the state violated the law. Officials were warned that if they moved forward with their plans, the state would lose millions in federal dollars.

Since his recess appointment by President Obama, Berwick has faced pushback from the right.

Roll Call recently reported on “strategy sessions” that have been held by a group of social conservatives at “the headquarters of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.” According to the article, “the group is trying to reinforce the notion in conservative circles that issues such as faith, gay marriage and abortion are inherently tied to deficit reduction and limited government.”

Among the group’s many lobbying activities on the Hill, it is formulating and gathering “signatures for policy papers called ‘Memos for the Movement.’” One of the most recent subjects of these memos is Donald Berwick:

One paper slammed several of President Barack Obama’s recess appointees, including Donald Berwick to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as “even too radical to be confirmed by [a] Democrat-controlled Senate.” That letter was signed by Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain, Perkins, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and other conservative activists.

A handful of states, Florida among them, are in the middle of seeking federal approval for their Medicaid plans.

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