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FIRST-PERSON: Obama shows his hand with Berwick appointment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Donald Berwick was nominated as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by Barack Obama in mid-April. Just over two months after that announcement, the White House revealed July 6 the president had given the Harvard pediatrician a recess appointment, completing an end run around Congress.

In bypassing the standard treatment for presidential appointees, President Obama rammed Dr. Berwick down the throats of the American people. This illustrates the extreme lengths to which this president and his administration are willing to go to establish a single-payer, British-style, socialized-medicine system, along with the rationing of health care to the elderly and infirm which inevitably accompanies it.

Then-Sen. Obama said in 2004 that he thought the single-payer system was the best system for the country but that it couldn’t be done all at once. ObamaCare was the first giant step toward socialized medicine, and there is no question this is the second.

Dr. Berwick has expressed extreme admiration (bordering on adoration) for the British National Health Service to the point of saying that he has romantic love for it. He has praised effusively the British government committee NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) that rations health care to the elderly and the terminally ill. He has expressed a strong desire to emulate that system here.

“Both the UK and the US are struggling to improve their troubled healthcare systems. Which is more likely to succeed? The two countries are strikingly similar in the problems they face, and equally dissimilar in their plans of action. I am a fan of both but, when bets are placed, my money will be on the UK,” Berwick wrote in a 2004 issue of the journal Quality and Safety in Health Care (http://bit.ly/bt4mne).

In a 2000 British medical journal article (http://bit.ly/acHWNZ) he wrote, “We think nationalized health care was a wise choice [for Great Britain] in 1948 and that it remains so now.”

There does not appear to be any doubt about his preference for a health care system design that puts the government, not the physicians or the patients, in the driver’s seat. And now he is the head of the influential government agency that runs the nation’s two federal public insurance programs — Medicare and Medicaid — that are at the core of the president’s plans for America’s “reformed” health care system.

Citizens are diagnosed later and treated later under a one-size-fits-all government health care system that rations care by necessity. Those who live in Britain and are at the mercy of that country’s health care system are 40 percent more likely to die from colon cancer, 88 percent more likely to die from breast cancer and 604 percent more likely to die from prostate cancer than those of us in the U.S. (http://bit.ly/ehUSo).

I lived under socialized medicine for two years, 11 months and 4 days, but who’s counting? My wife and I lived in England as I pursued my doctorate at Oxford. It was a horrible system. I am absolutely convinced that many people under that system wouldn’t have died nearly as soon if they had lived in the U.S.

Apparently sensing trouble with the nomination or wanting to avoid giving health care “reform” any more attention than it is already receiving; Obama circumvented the standard confirmation process for government appointees even before the confirmation process began for Dr. Berwick.

There was no hearing on his nomination; reportedly the committee had not even completed vetting him. And Dr. Berwick had not completed the paperwork required by the Senate committee as an appointee.

He was given a recess appointment because he was going to face the grilling of a lifetime in the U.S. Senate.

To put Dr. Berwick in charge of administering $500 billion in cuts to Medicare just as the baby boomers begin to access that system is like putting the most ravenous fox in complete charge of the hen house. Dr. Berwick’s appointment should be headlined: “Medical rationing is here.”

He is the No. 1 advocate for rationing care to the elderly and to the terminally ill as cost-saving measures. Life just got a lot more dangerous for every American over 65.

The recess appointment process was established to ensure that the government could continue to operate even if the legislative branch was not in session, but that was not the case in Obama’s decision.

In making this appointment while Congress was out of town, the president further clarified his flawed vision for the future of the nation’s health care and reneged yet again on his verbal commitment to government transparency and accountability.
Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

    About the Author

  • Richard Land

    Richard Land, D. Phil, is the Executive Editor of the Christian Post, having previously served as president of the ERLC (1988-2013) and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (2013-2021). He also serves as the chairman of the advisory board at the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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