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Truth is in short supply in Washington.
That is why recent statements made by Donald Berwick, President Obama’s nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are both refreshing and chilling.
Here’s what Dr. Berwick had to say in a 2009 interview with Biotechnology Healthcare:
“The decision is not whether or not we will ration care – the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”
Berwick made that statement while discussing the council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, which was tasked with researching and evaluating the cost of medical treatments and their outcomes. It was part of the $787 billion stimulus package and one of the building blocks Obama wanted in place before the health-care takeover bill was passed.
This statement is refreshingly candid, to be sure, but chilling when you consider that, if Obama has his way, this man will directly control the health care of a third of this nation’s citizens and indirectly control the health care of our entire population.
The president’s selection of Berwick to oversee Medicare and Medicaid is not a surprise. The surprise is that the White House is no longer trying to hide the fact that rationing is, indeed, one of the ways he plans to control cost.
In the run-up to Berwick’s confirmation hearing, the Obama administration put out this statement:
“No one is surprised that Republicans plan to use this confirmation process to trot out the same arguments and scare tactics they hoped would block health insurance reform. The fact is, rationing is rampant in the system today, as insurers make arbitrary decisions about who can get the care they need. Don Berwick wants to see a system in which those decisions are transparent – and the people who make them are held accountable.”
Oh, I feel so much better now that this rationing thing will be “transparent.”
“Yes, Marie Antoinette, you are, in fact, going to the guillotine, not the hairdresser.” That would have made the end result a lot more bearable!
Did the French queen have a say in the matter? No, and as long as the health-care takeover bill stands, neither will we. This is one of the happy little surprises we were promised by Nancy Pelosi who said, “But we have to pass the (health-care) bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
During the debate on the health-care takeover bill, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and others tried to warn us that there were four rationing bodies embedded in the bill: the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the Independent Medicare Advisory board, the CMS Innovation Center and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.
What kind of rationing can we expect?
Fortunately for us, Dr. Berwick has a plethora of speeches, books and articles that give us a heads up. Sen. Roberts made two speeches on the Senate floor this month in which he detailed some of Berwick’s remarks.
Anyone paying attention?
Dr. Berwick: “If I could wave a magic wand (soon he’ll have a big stick) … health care (would be) a common good – single-payer … health care (would be) a human right – universality is a nonnegotiable starting place … justice (would be) a prerequisite to health – equity is a primary quality goal.”
When left-wingers like Berwick start throwing words like “justice” and “equity” around with health care, you know he is talking about suppressing the rights of some and elevating the rights of others.
Dr. Berwick: “(A)ny health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must – must – redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate.”
Berwick is enamored with the British system where age rationing is practiced and cancer survival rates are dismal.
Dr. Berwick: “I am a romantic about the (British) National Heath Service. I love it!”
Don’t take comfort in the fact that you are years away from Medicare. The building blocks are in place for the CMS director to set the standards for the insurance industry and to define and limit the treatments that are available to specific groups of patients.
The British system, praised by Dr. Berwick, uses end-of-life death pathways, which withhold expensive treatment in favor of morphine and hand-holding. Physicians have charged that this leads to premature death for many British citizens.
During the debate on the health-care takeover bill, Obama ridiculed those like Roberts who tried to warn us about rationing and Sarah Palin who used the term “death panels.” Now that his administration has admitted that rationing is part of the plan, at the very least, he owes these folks an apology.