March 3, 2024

Controversy flares over Obama’s healthcare appointment

Is this a step towards healthcare rationing?

Donald BerwickThe controversy over President Obama’s
healthcare package has flared up again with the appointment of a Harvard
professor who will implement many of the reforms, including the expansion of
Medicaid and controlling Medicare costs. Donald Berwick will become
Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

This is a significant appointment, as the
CMS Administrator oversees a third of all health care spending in the United
States, more than US$800 billion. Since Congress is in recess, the President was
able to appoint Dr Berwick for one year without seeking Senate approval.

Obama’s political opponents warn that Dr
Berwick will implement healthcare rationing and the socialisation of American
medicine. They have trawled through interviews and articles to find evidence of

Last year, they found, Berwick said society
makes decisions about rationing all the time, and that the “decision is
not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will
ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly.”

He also esteems the UK’s National Institute
for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which he said had “developed
very good and very disciplined, scientifically grounded, policy-connected
models for the evaluation of medical treatments from which we ought to

And his praise
of the UK’s National Health Service
was fulsome in 2008: “one of the truly
astounding human endeavors of modern times… The NHS is a bridge – a towering
bridge – between the rhetoric of justice and the fact of justice.”

However, a number of medical groups and
healthcare organisations defended his “patient-centered” record. President
Bush’s two former CMS administrators also defend the appointment. ~ ABC
News, July 6

Michael Cook
healthcare rationing