WASHINGTON -- President Obama has renominated Donald Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a pivotal position in implementing the presidentís health care law.
The renomination was one of almost 40 made late today, including several nominees with Bay State ties.
Using a recess appointment, Obama had placed Berwick, a Harvard professor and Boston pediatrician noted for his work to improve health care without raising costs, into his position on July 7 after the Senate did not confirm him.
Some Republicans contended Berwickís positions could lead to care rationing; others hinted they would vote against him in protest of the presidentís health care overhaul.
The use of a recess appointment allows a president to fill a position without Senate confirmation when Congress isnít in session. Because of the way he was appointed, however, Berwickís term runs only to the end of this year, and he would need to win confirmation in order to carry out key changes to the health care system.
Since in office, Berwick has been developing a system of innovation sites across the nation to test ways to improve care and cut costs. The sites are the first step in changing the fundamental ways the government pays physicians and hospitals.
The renomination was one of several from the president yesterday:
-- Craig Becker, to the National Labor Relations Board. His appointment was blocked by Republicans, who thought his positions were overly pro-labor. Obama made a recess appointment for Becker in April.
-- Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., as ambassador to Turkey. The Boston native and Malden Catholic graduate had been blocked from his position by Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, who said he thought Ricciardone would not be committed to democratic reform in Turkey. Under Senate rules, a single senator can place a hold on a nomination, which would require 60 votes to lift. Ricciardone had served as ambassador to Egypt from 2005 to 2008, appointed by President George W. Bush. Obama had installed him in Ankara with a recess appointment last month.
-- Robert Stephen Ford, as ambassador to Syria. Ford, who had served as ambassador to Algeria, had been blocked by Republicans who believed installing a full ambassador in Damascus would reward Syria, which has had ties with terrorist groups. Obama had used a recess appointment last month to install Ford.
-- Scott C. Doney, as chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, has been holding up the nomination of Doney, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, to protest the slow pace of permits for offshore oil drilling following the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.