De­fend­ing Ber­wick

GOP will raise ra­tioning is­sue for CMS nom­i­nee

Modern Healthcare - - The Week In Healthcare - Matthew Do­Bias

The White House last week hit back at Repub­li­can charges that Don­ald Ber­wick, the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s nom­i­nee to fill the top post at the CMS, fa­vors ra­tioned care with a heavy govern­ment touch.

“No one is sur­prised that the Repub­li­cans plan to use this con­fir­ma­tion process to trot out the same ar­gu­ments and scare tac­tics they hoped would block health in­surance re­form,” said White House spokesman Reid Cher­lin. “The fact is, ra­tioning is ram­pant in the sys­tem to­day, as in­sur­ers make ar­bi­trary de­ci­sions about who can get ac­cess to care.”

Ber­wick “wants to see a sys­tem in which those de­ci­sions are trans­par­ent—and that the peo­ple who make them are held ac­count­able,” Cher­lin said.

The White House coun­ter­punch comes af­ter a hand­ful of key Repub­li­cans said they plan to press Ber­wick on state­ments he made in in­ter­views that ap­pear to be com­pli­men­tary of Bri­tain’s na­tional health­care sys­tem and of some level of ra­tioning care.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on April 19 of­fi­cially nom­i­nated Ber­wick, 63, a pe­di­a­tri­cian, pa­tient-safety ad­vo­cate and founder of the In­sti­tute for Health­care Im­prove­ment in Cam­bridge, Mass., to lead the CMS. The move was long ex­pected. By far the largest payer of health­care in the coun­try, the CMS has be­come a crit­i­cal point of dis­cus­sion in the wake of the new health­care law.

Shortly af­ter the an­nounce­ment of his nom­i­na­tion, how­ever, the Se­nate Repub­li­can Pol­icy Com­mit­tee re­leased a memo high­light­ing com­ments Ber­wick made to a trade jour­nal that seem­ingly praise the United King­dom’s Na­tional In­sti­tute for Health and Clin­i­cal Ex­cel­lence. The U.K.’s sys­tem of govern­ment-run care be­came a Repub­li­can foil dur­ing the re­form de­bates, with many GOP law­mak­ers com­par­ing that sys­tem to

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