July 30,2010

Grassley Seeks Promised Information from CMS Administrator Berwick

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Finance Committee, asked new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick to follow through on promises to provide information regarding potential conflicts of interest stemming from his prior work. President Obama recess-appointed Berwick before the Finance Committee held a hearing on the nomination.

“These are questions that would have come up in a nomination hearing and possibly have been answered a long time ago,” Grassley said.  “Since we didn’t get to have a hearing, the questions are still on the table.  Closing the loop will help build transparency around the person who’s been chosen to run the nation’s health care programs.”  

Grassley asked Berwick to disclose information about the sources of funding for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), where Berwick previously worked, as Berwick promised to do last month.  The letter asks for Berwick to provide this information to provide some transparency regarding actual or potential financial conflicts of interests in his role as CMS administrator, given “the Administration’s apparent opposition to allowing (Dr. Berwick) to appear before a Committee nomination hearing.”

The letter also asks whether “IHI continues to provide benefits” to Berwick and his family, “including health care coverage as indicated in IHI’s audited financial statement.”  The extent and status of the IHI benefits are unclear.  It would be noteworthy if the administrator of federal health programs received a workplace benefit beyond what many Americans receive. 

Grassley and his fellow committee Republicans have pressed for a Finance Committee hearing featuring Berwick to no avail.