Monday, July 26, 2010


On July 7th of this year, President Obama made several recess appointments. One of those was Dr. Donald Berwick who will head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Recess appointments usually cause grumblings from the opposite political party. In this case Republicans. But also in this case the complaints came for some Democrats. Obama Uses Recess Appointment To Install Berwick As Head Of Medicare, Medicaid from Kaiser Health has a summary of comments from the media.

One of the Democrats is Max Baucus of Montana. Senator Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. As such Senator Baucus is the one who would schedule the hearings for Dr. Berwick's nomination. Senator Baucus had not scheduled any hearings as yet, so this is one nomination which cannot be blamed on the Republicans.
[Sen. Max Baucus] "said he was 'troubled' that Obama chose to install Berwick without a formal confirmation process. '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"
There is a very real possibility that Dr. Berwick's confirmation both in committee and before the full Senate, might not happen because of his Health Care Views.

Dr. Berwick does not believe waste in Medicine. But waste to him appears to mean something different than what most Americans call waste. It means Health Care rationing to Dr. Berwick.
Dr. Berwick has championed the interests of patients and consumers. At the same time, he has spoken of the need to ration health care and cap spending, has supported efforts to 'reduce the total supply of high-technology medical and surgical care' and has expressed great admiration for the British health care system. [Emphasis Mine]
In a interview with Katherine T. Adams, senior editor of Biotechnology Healthcare, published in June 2009, Rethinking Comparative Effectiveness Research, Dr. Berwick states ...
The decision is not whether or not we will ration care - the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. [Emphasis Mine]
That's what Dr. Berwick means by waste. He wants to measure the care of each patient, each procedure as to whether it is COST EFFECTIVE.

As mentioned earlier, Dr. Berwick "...has expressed great admiration for the British health care system". Here is a look at the present state of British Health Care. Axe falls on NHS services is an Investigative Report form the UK's "Sunday Telegraph".
Patients’ groups have described the measures as “astonishingly brutal”.
How brutal. Here is what the investigation found.
The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered widespread cuts planned across the NHS, many of which have already been agreed by senior health service officials. They include:

* Restrictions on some of the most basic and common operations, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and orthodontic procedures.

* Plans to cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from budgets for the terminally ill, with dying cancer patients to be told to manage their own symptoms if their condition worsens at evenings or weekends.

* The closure of nursing homes for the elderly.

* A reduction in acute hospital beds, including those for the mentally ill, with targets to discourage GPs from sending patients to hospitals and reduce the number of people using accident and emergency departments.

* Tighter rationing of NHS funding for IVF treatment, and for surgery for obesity.

* Thousands of job losses at NHS hospitals, including 500 staff to go at a trust where cancer patients recently suffered delays in diagnosis and treatment because of staff shortages.

* Cost-cutting programmes in paediatric and maternity services, care of the elderly and services that provide respite breaks to long-term carers.
Many laughed when Sarah Palin talked about Death Panels. In light of the above, can anyone seriously say these cuts will not cut short the quality of care and possibly result in premature death for some of the patients covered under British Health Care? The same kind of Health Care System favored by Dr. Berwick? The same kind of Health Care System which is the result of ObamaCare? And now ObamaCare under Dr. Berwick?

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