Obama Rationing Czar Donald Berwick Asked to Detail His Lifetime Health Care

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 29, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Obama Rationing Czar Donald Berwick Asked to Detail His Lifetime Health Care

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 29
, 2010

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Senator Charles Grassley, a pro-life Iowa Republican, has sent a letter to Donald Berwick, the rationing advocate who President Barack Obama appointed to become the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, asking him about his lifetime health care.

Republican members of the Senate, who did not get a chance to hold a hearing or vote on Berwick thanks to the recess appointment, are concerned about Berwick’s ties to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

The nonprofit organization received $12.2 million in contributions and grants in 2008, the Examiner indicates, and Berwick received $2.3 million that year in compensation. His salary from the organization was $637,006 in 2007 and $585,008 in 2006.

Berwick also receives, along with his wife, health care insurance coverage paid for by the Institute "from retirement until death."

Grassley’s letter, sent today, requests that Berwick disclose information about the sources of funding for the Institute as Berwick promised to do last month. The letter asks for Berwick to provide this information to allow some transparency regarding actual or potential financial conflicts of interests in his role as CMS Administrator, given “the Administration’s apparent opposition to allowing you to appear before a Committee nomination hearing.”

The letter also asks whether “IHI continues to provide benefits” to Berwick and his family “including health care coverage as indicated in IHI’s audited financial statement.”

It remains unclear whether Berwick will decline his IHI-provided coverage and accept federal health coverage instead, thus subjecting himself to the same coverage decisions he and his agency will impose on one in three Americans.

"As you are aware, many of my colleagues and I are very concerned that your recess appointment has circumvented the open public review of your nomination," Grassley writes.

"The need to consider your nomination in a transparent and deliberative manner is all the more important because the recently enacted health care reform legislation makes CMS responsible for numerous and significant changes to federal health programs, including over half a trillion dollars in Medicare payment cuts and the largest Medicaid coverage expansion since the program’s creation," he says.

"The requested information goes to the heart of the issue of whether you are able to execute your significant responsibilities as CMS Administrator in a fair and impartial manner. In fact, my request for this information becomes even more important as it appears that you will not have a forum to address this issue in the immediate future despite the repeated urgings by Republicans on the Committee for a hearing on your nomination," the pro-life lawmaker adds in the letter.

Republicans would like to question Berwick on this and other issues, but will not have the chance.

Even though Obama appointed Berwick without a hearing, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus complained about that, the Democrat will not allow a hearing now, even though he can arrange one.


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