After enthusiastically embracing President Barack Obama’s costly and unpopular health care overhaul, which a majority of Delaware voters want repealed, will Chris Coons (D-DE) stand by idly as Obama appoints Don Berwick, a tireless advocate of health care rationing, to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)?
Chris Coons’ fellow Democrats never called a Senate hearing on Berwick’s nomination. And despite the Obama White House’s claims that “many Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could,” Republicans actually have no ability to “stall the nomination” in committee.
In truth, nothing prevented Chris Coons’ fellow Democrats from calling a hearing, or voting to report the nomination out of committee. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and his fellow Senate Democrats simply chose to do neither.
Notably, CMS is one of the largest agencies in the federal government. This fiscal year, it will disburse $803 billion in benefits – making CMS larger than all but 15 of the world’s economies – larger than the economies of Denmark, South Africa, and Israel combined.
“After eagerly endorsing President Obama’s unpopular health spending bill, will Chris Coons stand by as Obama appoints this radical health care rationing czar without so much as a public hearing?” asked National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman Chris Bond. “A majority of Delaware voters want this disastrous health care overhaul repealed, yet with his silence, Coons continues to side with his Washington party bosses instead of the people of his state. Delaware voters know Chris Coons will blindly rubberstamp his party’s out-of-control agenda in Washington, and that’s why they will elect Mike Castle as their next U.S. Senator this November.”
Berwick Sees Need For “Health Care Rationing,” Arguing That Government Will Need To Make “Decisions About Who Will Have Access To Care And The Extent Of Their Coverage.” “And he embraces government health care rationing. ‘The decision is not whether or not we will ration care,’ he said in a 2009 interview, ‘the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.’ This is a view Berwick has held for a long time; more than 10 years ago he wrote that ‘limited resources require decisions about who will have access to care and the extent of their coverage.’” (Jeff Jacoby, Op-Ed, “Dangerous To Our Health,” The Boston Globe, 6/16/10)
When Discussing Comparative Effectiveness Research, Berwick Praised Britain’s National Institute For Health And Clinical Excellence (NICE). Q: “Are we on the right track with a federal CER agency?” Berwick: “The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom and also, to some extent, the Institut National de La Sante in France have developed very good and very disciplined, scientifically grounded, policy- connected models for the evaluation of medical treatments from which we ought to learn. … These organizations have created benchmarks of best practices that we could learn from and adapt in this country.” (Katherine T. Adams, “An Interview With Dr. Donald Berwick: Rethinking Comparative Effectiveness Research,” Biotechnology Healthcare, 6/09)
Berwick Agrees That NICE Is “A Bogeyman” In The US, But Calls It “Extremely Effective… Conscientious, Valuable.” “I know that, and it’s a misunderstanding of the deepest sort. NICE is extremely effective and a conscientious, valuable, and – importantly – knowledge-building system. The fact that it’s a bogeyman in this country is a political fact, not a technical one.” (Katherine T. Adams, “An Interview With Dr. Donald Berwick: Rethinking Comparative Effectiveness Research,” Biotechnology Healthcare, 6/09)
Berwick Calls It “Irrational” To Not Consider Costs For Rationing. “You can say, ‘Well, we shouldn’t even look.’ But that would be irrational. The social budget is limited – we have a limited resource pool. It makes terribly good sense to at least know the price of an added benefit, and at some point we might say nationally, regionally, or locally that we wish we could afford it, but we can’t. We have to be realistic about the knowledge base.” (Katherine T. Adams, “An Interview With Dr. Donald Berwick: Rethinking Comparative Effectiveness Research,” Biotechnology Healthcare, 6/09)