Politico: Senate Democrats Giving Up on Don Berwick

Politico reports that Senate Democrats are “giving up” on Don Berwick, the controversial head of CMS, in the wake of the letter signed by 42 Senate Republicans demanding his nomination’s withdrawal.

Citing the GOP letter, a person familiar with the situation said Senate Democrats and the White House “can do the arithmetic” and now see that there’s no way for Berwick to get the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.

At a meeting with health care lobbyists Friday, Democratic Senate Finance Committee staffers indicated that the nomination is dead, that there will be no confirmation hearing, and that they’ll soon be discussing “next steps” for CMS, sources said.

A correction is in order, however, regarding one line in the piece, which states that “If he is not confirmed by the Senate, Berwick will have to leave by the end of 2011.” In reality, Berwick can stay on as acting administrator if he was once again a recess appointee — he just could not be paid for the position, thanks to a 2009 Omnibus Appropriations law.