[F]issures between Michael Astrue and Donald Berwick, a Democratic candidate for governor, opened in early 2011 when Berwick, then administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, summoned Astrue, then Social Security Administration commissioner, to his office.
Berwick wanted Social Security to help pay for a piece of the health care insurance marketplace, which was in the planning stages and due to go online almost three years later in October 2013.
Astrue said he felt bullied by Berwick and rebuffed him.
Now they have brought the fallout from their Washington dispute back to Cambridge, where, in new roles, they are locked in an increasingly fierce feud with implications for the 2014 campaign for governor.
Astrue, a Republican biotechnology chief executive and supporter of GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, said in news media appearances in recent weeks and in an interview with the Globe that Berwick’s weak leadership and “dawdling’’ during his tenure at CMS in 2010 and 2011 were the root cause of the embarrassing failures this month of Obama’s insurance marketplace.
Berwick, asked by the Globe to respond, vigorously denied Astrue’s accusations. The former Social Security commissioner, he said, is a “hack’’ and a “right-wing pundit’’ who is “just not credible.’’
“His comments are basically ridiculous,” said Berwick, who is seeking his party’s nomination for governor while serving as a fellow at the nonprofit health care think tank he founded in Cambridge. “He’s uninformed, and he’s politically motivated. I met with that guy probably twice in my life.” ...