Democrat Joins Republicans in Blasting Obama on Pro-Rationing Berwick

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 8, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Democrat Joins Republicans in Blasting Obama on Pro-Rationing Berwick

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 8
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Republicans in the Senate are not the only ones upset by President Barack Obama’s recess appointment of pro-rationing activist Donald Berwick to oversee implementation of the new government-run health care program, as pro-abortion Sen. Max Baucus is upset at well.

Obama sidestepped Congress to name Berwick as the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Berwick had never received a committee hearing or votes from either a Senate panel or on the Senate floor when Obama decided to install the rationing supporter into the influential post.

That is not going over well with Baucus, who issued a statement condemning the move.

"Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power and protects Montanans and all Americans by ensuring that crucial questions are asked of the nominee — and answered," he said.

Berwick will lead the CMS until the end of 2011 under the recess appointment, which negates any potential action by the Senate to act on Obama’s previous nomination of him for the post.

Some political observers say Obama made the recess appointment after smarting from the withdrawal of pro-abortion legal activist Dawn Johnson, a Justice Department nominee who removed herself from consideration in April after facing massive pro-life opposition to her radical views — which included saying women are forced to endure slavery when pregnant.

Leading pro-life groups have strongly objected to the recess appointment and point to Berwick’s rationing views — calling him a "one man death panel."

In a June 2009 interview with the journal Biotechnology Healthcare, Berwick said, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care – the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

In an article in the May/June 2008 issue of Health Affairs, he called for “rational collective action overriding some individual self-interest” so as to “reduce per capita costs.” Lamenting that “[t]oday’s individual health care processes are designed to respond to the acute needs of individual patients,” Berwick wrote that instead government should “approach new technologies and capital investments with skepticism and require that a strong burden of proof of value lie with the proponent.”

Berwick’s advocacy of the decimation of American health care is long-standing. In a 1994 Journal of the American Medical Association article, he wrote, “Most metropolitan areas in the United States should reduce the number of centers engaging in cardiac surgery, high-risk obstetrics, neonatal intensive care, organ transplantation, tertiary cancer care, high-level trauma care, and high-technology imaging.”

Berwick is also an enthusiastic supporter of Britain’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), the agency charged with determining which medical advances will – and which will not – be made available to the British public.

Berwick claims NICE has “developed very good and very disciplined . . . models for the evaluation of medical treatment from which we ought to learn.” England’s five-year cancer survival rate for men is only 45%, compared with 66% in the U.S. That for women is 53%, compared to 63% in the U.S.

The difference can in large measure be attributed to the refusal of NICE to authorized British use of pioneering cancer drugs routinely available in the United States. That is to say – currently routinely available in the United States – an availability Berwick will soon be using the power of government to curtail.


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