Controversial Obama appointee coming to CT to discuss health reform

One of the Obama’s Administration’s most controversial appointees will be in Hartford Monday to talk about one of its most divisive achievements-health care reform.

Donald Berwick, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), will be meeting with Gov. Dannel Malloy, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, and Rep. John Larson, to discuss health reform.

Berwick may not be a household name outside the beltway, but in Washington, he’s been a lightening-rod. President Obama gave Berwick a so-called “recess appointment,” installing him as head of CMS while Congress was on break, a maneuver that allowed the White House to avoid a nasty Senate confirmation battle.

Republicans have objected to Berwick’s focus on lowering health care costs, accusing him of favoring health care “rationing” and pointing to his plaudits for England’s national health care system, among other things.

Liberals have come to Berwick’s defense, saying the GOP has distorted his record and used scare tactics to torpedo his CMS nomination.

One thing that’s certain: CMS is at the forefront of health reform, and Berwick has considerable power to spur innovation in health care delivery as the new law is implemented.

The specific agenda for Monday’s meeting between Berwick and the Connecticut contingent is unclear. But they’re making themselves available to the press afterwards, holding out the promise of some interesting news.