Bad Romance: Donald Berwick and the UK

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The White House announced today that it will bypass the nomination process and move to a recess appoint of Donald Berwick as administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).While Berwicks nomination was worrisome, his direct appointment will likely shape up as yet another Obama administration disaster.

On the surface, Donald Berwicks credentials look convincing.According to the Washington Post, Berwick is a three-time graduate of Harvard and the founder of the Institute for Health Care Improvement. However, Berwicks self-proclaimed romance with the United Kingdoms (UK) current health care system raises serious concerns.

First, Berwick is in favor of rationing health care, a philosophy which he takes from the UKs health care system. Basically, rationing is a system in which an agency limits the amount of care citizens can receive so that costs are kept low. The Wall Street Journal reports that in March the UK disallowed drugs which helped prolong life for those with breast and stomach cancer because they cost too much. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported another case of rationing in the UK concerning a drug which improved eyesight for people with muscular degeneration. The drug was approved for use in one eye only, which means that those who are lucky enough to get the drug will still go blind in their other eye. According to CNS News, Berwick stated position is, The decision is not whether or not we will ration care. The decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.

Kiss Grandma goodbye.

CNS also quotes Berwick as saying, Any 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. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional. This is the man President Obama is appointing as administrator of CMS, a man who believes in redistributing care according to class, not need.

Even more disconcerting is the fact that President Obama assured the American people that his health care overhaul would not lead us to a British-type health care system. Yet, Berwick fairly gushes in evangelical fashion about his belief that it is the countrys leaders who should be in charge of health care decisions.By his own admission, he greatly admires the UK system.

The American Spectator reports that Berwick believes the U.S. health care system runs in the darkness of private enterprise. He believes that the NHS (Britains national health care system) is universal, accessible, excellent, and free at the point of care a health system that is, at its core, like the world we wish we had. With Berwick at the helm, the American health care system will not be run by private, innovative entrepreneurs but by an agenda-occupied, political government.

If Berwick gets his way and the national health care system mirrors that of Britains, it will also model Britains myriad problems. One such problem is the low survival rate for breast cancer.Along with that, citizens of the UK currently have a lower average life span than U.S. citizens.With such alarming problems, the UKs health care system is hardly the world we wished we had. Its more like the nightmare we wish to avoid.

Sadly, with Berwicks Senate-sidestep appointment, its a nightmare thats likely to occur.

Candace Myrick is a intern with Concerned Women for Americas (CWA) Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program.To find out more about internships with CWA, click here.

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