Obama names new rationer in chief

Freedom New Mexico

We’re calling him Dr. Ration. Others are calling him the Rationing Czar or the Rationer in Chief.

He is Don Berwick, MD, whom President Obama just appointed as the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which runs the huge Medicare and Medicaid government health programs.

This was a recess appointment, meaning it bypasses the usual Senate approval process. Dr. Berwick thus avoids hearings in which Republicans would question him closely and a confirmation vote he might not win. The appointment lasts until a new Congress convenes in January.

Berwick long has advocated a rationing of health care along the model of Great Britain’s National Health Service. Praising the NHS in a speech in Britain in 2008, he said, “Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional.”

Ironically, after more than 60 years, Britain’s socialist model soon could be reformed under the new Conservative Party government to allow hospitals to accept higher payments from the wealthy to get faster service. That is, it would partly end rationing of the sort Berwick promotes.

And in an interview in the June 2009 Biotechnology Healthcare Magazine, he said, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

“The way this legislation is structured sits with Berwick’s ideology,” Gracie-Marie Turner said of the Obama reform. She’s president of the Galen Institute, a free-market medical think tank.

“It’s the idea that, ‘Government knows best. American patients and doctors need to be told what to do. Now he has 2,700 pages of legislation and one-sixth of the economy to implement his vision.” Currently, medical care in America comprises 17 percent of the economy, or one-sixth.

We favor broader access to health care, but achieved through free market reforms, which we often have outlined, that address everything from pre-existing conditions (shared high risk pools) to lower cost premiums (private insurance exchanges, fewer mandates, sensible tort reforms, technology/tracking improvements).

The overall goal is to keep health care in the innovative private sector and keep medical decisions in the hands of the doctor and the patient. Individuals need to be diagnosed and treated as individuals, not health statistics riding a government-run conveyor belt of pre-packaged care.

She urged Republicans to repeal the Obama health bill, something they may have the opportunity to do if they win one or both houses of Congress in November. As she put it: “they will have to repeal this huge affront to our freedom.”