Medicare Czar for Rationing Before He Was Against It

You all remember Donald Berwick, right? He’s the radical Obama tapped to run the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, despite Berwick’s past statements romanticizing Britain’s government-run health care and a 2009 declaration that we must “ration with our eyes open.”

There was no way in hell Obama could’ve got Berwick confirmed through the normal Senate channels, so he proceeded to make a “recess” appointment and shield Berwick from ever having to defend his love-affair with socialized medicine. To put this in perspective, leading the Center for Medicare & Medicaid is not some flimsy position. As the New York Times put it, Berwick now commands the healthcare spending for one-in-three Americans and “has a budget bigger than the Pentagon’s.”

Berwick finally broke his silence yesterday, speaking at a conference sponsored by America’s Health Insurance Plans. But his prepared remarks raised more questions than they answered, as he continues to evade questions from reporters on his affinity for “single-payer” healthcare.

Berwick told the gathering of health insurance players that medical policy in this country should not include “withholding from us, or our neighbors, any care that helps” nor should it harm “one hair on anyone’s head.” He even noted that a “massive, top-down, national project is not the way” to lower the cost of medical care.

So has Berwick seen the light, finally realizing that government-run healthcare is in fact a total disaster? That’s doubtful. Berwick was such a proponent of Britain’s “single-payer” system that Queen Elisabeth II actually knighted him.

(Yes, poor chaps, it’s “Sir” Donald to you!)

Moreover, Berwick has been writing and speaking about rationing for years now. In his book, Escape Fire, he explicitly advocated that cities must cut services.

Quoth Sir Donald:

“Most metropolitan areas in the United States should reduce the number of centers engaging in cardiac surgery, high-risk obstetrics, neonatal intensive care, organ transplantation, tertiary cancer care, high-level trauma care, and high-technology imaging.”

Looks like Berwick was for rationing before he was against it, huh? Clearly the last thing the White House needs before the midterm elections is to arouse a debate over government bureaucrats deciding who gets treated and who doesn’t. That’s why Berwick is changing his tune… and dodging the media. The money line from the press coverage on Berwick’s Monday speech was courtesy of the Associated Press: “He left without taking questions from reporters.”

It has now been three months since Obama snuck Berwick through to his post as the Medicare & Medicaid administrator. Since then, Berwick refuses to engage critics, talk to reporters, grant interviews, or testify before Congress. Hey, if I once referred to Britain’s socialized medicine as a “seductress” of which I were “romantic” about, I’d probably pull a Where’s Waldo and disappear, too. Except that Sir Donald promised a “point-by-point rebuttal” to his critics that we’re still waiting on.

Bottom line: We have a White House appointee in Berwick who is in charge of a budget topping $800 billion a year and whose policy enactments will deeply affect our healthcare decisions, but yet refuses to hold himself accountable to Congress and the press.

Ah, transparency in Obama’s America.