The Curious Case of Dr. Berwick: The White House has sent the appointment of Donald Berwick to the Senate. But Berwick already has the job of running Medicare and Medicaid until 2011no matter what senators think (thanks to a controversial recess appointment).

 The Senate referral is a charade. Why do it? Byron York reports:

 [T]he renomination allows Obama to claim he wants to work with the Senate to win Berwick’s confirmation, even though the recess appointment makes that superfluous.

 Is anybody enough of a sucker to fall for this ploy?

 Let’s call it the P. T. Barnum ploy. You’d have to be a sucker to fall for it. However, as York notes, the non-referral referral will serve to keep the anger over the Berwick appointment at boiling point. Even though Berwick has no incentive to answer questions-why would he before a Potemkin hearing?-let’s hope senators use the non-confirmation hearings to ask them. York notes that Republican senators in particular would like to know more:

They still want to know more about his advocacy of health care rationing, his admiration for Britain’s National Health Service, and his inclination to trust the health care decisions of centralized planners more than individual doctors and patients.

Beyond that, the GOP is especially curious about a nonprofit organization Berwick founded, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. A 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, the institute reported receiving $12.2 million in contributions and grants, among other revenues, in 2008 (the most recent year for which figures are publicly available). Given all the money that has flown around in the health care debate, Republicans wanted to know where the $12.2 million came from. The recess appointment meant that Berwick didn’t have to answer.

The institute has also been very good to Berwick personally. He received $2.3 million in compensation in 2008 (a figure that included retirement funds), and was paid $637,006 in 2007 and $585,008 in 2006. On top of that, investigators discovered a little-noticed paragraph in an audit report revealing that in 2003 the institute’s board of directors gave Berwick and his wife health coverage “from retirement until death.”

Millions of Americans worry about securing coverage and paying for it. Berwick, who advocates rationing for the masses, will never be one of them.