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House Republicans Demand Medicare Czar Hearing

House Ways and Means Committee Republicans today are demanding an oversight hearing seeking information on Obamacare implementation plans by new Medicare Czar Donald Berwick.

Berwick was anointed by presidential recess appointment over 4th of July break without a Senate confirmation hearing.

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee — which has oversight of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) — seek answers from Berwick about his vision for implementing the government takeover of health care passed by House Democrats that included $500 billion in cuts to Medicare.

Berwick is an advocate of health care rationing, saying in a 2009 interview with a trade magazine, Biotechnology Healthcare, “It’s not a question of whether we will ration health care. It is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

That’s not very comforting for America’s seniors who are the largest consumers of health care services in the country.

From House Ways and Means Republicans, led by Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Ranking Member:

Ways and Means Republicans today sent a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin, requesting a hearing with the recently installed Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Dr. Donald Berwick. The Republicans called for the hearing to learn from Dr. Berwick about how he will oversee the implementation of the health care overhaul and his own agency’s finding that the one-half trillion dollars in Medicare cuts could jeopardize seniors’ access to care.

In the letter the Republicans observed that, “Members of Congress and the American people were denied the opportunity to hear Dr. Berwick’s testimony and learn how he intends to ensure that seniors’ access to care is preserved… Our nation’s seniors deserve to know what is in store for their health care and how Dr. Berwick intends to manage an agency that controls almost $800 billion in taxpayer funds annually.”

In contrast to the gravity Democrats’ placed on ramming their unpopular, trillion dollar health care bill through Congress over the objections of the American people, they have made little effort to oversee how the bill is being, and will be, implemented. Ways and Means Republicans have made three previous requests for hearings on the new health law:

•    On June 16, 2010 Committee Republicans asked Chairman Levin to hold a hearing with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the implementation of the new health care law and to get answers as to why HHS has already missed numerous statutorily-mandated deadlines. Chairman Levin has not acknowledged this request;
 
•    On May 20, 2010 Committee Republicans asked Chairman Levin to hold a hearing on the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis that federal health spending could increase by an additional $115 billion or more over 10 years to implement the Democrats’ new health care law.  Chairman Levin has not acknowledged this request; and
 
•    On April 28, 2010 Committee Republicans asked Chairman Levin to hold a hearing on CMS’ analysis which found that the new health law will increase national health care spending by over $300 billion, includes over one-half trillion in cuts to Medicare that could jeopardize seniors’ access to care, and will result in 14 million Americans losing their employer-provided health benefits. Chairman Levin has not acknowledged this request.

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Connie Hair writes a weekly column for HUMAN EVENTS. She is a former speechwriter for Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

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