President Barack Obama is scheduling to appoint the head of Medicare and Medicaid without Senate hearings. Obama intends to use a so-called recess appointment to put Berwick in charge of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Republicans have raised concerns about Berwick's views on rationing of care and other matters and said it was wrong for Obama to go around the normal Senate authentication process. That view was echoed by a key Democratic committee chairman, although the recess appointment is a tool used by presidents of both parties.

Berwick has wide support in the medical community but some Democrats feared the GOP would use his verification hearings as an occasion to reopen last year's troublesome health care debate. Obama protected the decision to appoint Berwick and two other officials, one to a pension board and the other to a White House science post.

The American Hospital Association and AARP were among the groups that weighed in to support Berwick Wednesday

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