Medicare chief steps aside in political impasse

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The point man for carrying out President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is stepping down after Republican senators successfully blocked his confirmation.

Medicare chief Don Berwick, a Harvard professor and widely respected health innovator, becomes the most prominent casualty of the political wars over the health care overhaul.

Berwick's resignation, effective Dec. 2, was confirmed by a congressional official briefed on the matter.

Forty-two GOP senators announced their opposition to Berwick months ago, more than enough to block his confirmation. That meant his temporary appointment would run out at the end of this year. Berwick's statements as an academic praising Britain's government-run health care were controversial in politically polarized Washington.

He will be replaced by his principal deputy, Marilyn Tavenner, who formerly was Virginia's top health care official.