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Berwick: “I am Romantic About the NHS”

by Benjamin Domenech on September 16, 2010

In May, Health Care News discovered video footage of President Obama’s nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald Berwick, describing his health care views to an audience in Great Britain. We reported on the story, noting at the time that Berwick’s nomination had attracted “relatively little attention” thus far, and that it deserved more. The footage showed Berwick detailing his affections for the UK’s National Health Service, noting that:

“I am romantic about the NHS; I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country.”

And more disturbingly, in the clip above:

“Any health care funding plan that is just equitable civilized and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional.”

Soon, everyone would know who Donald Berwick is — and his controversial views became so widely known that President Obama took the highly unusual tact of recess-appointing Berwick to head CMS before he had even one hearing before Congress, without any vetting of his views or his questionable funding sources. Even Democrats like Sen. Max Baucus criticized the move. Tomorrow, Donald Berwick will appear before Congress for the first time, at a Senate hearing on the Medicare system he heads, where he will give testimony and is expected to be asked a wide-ranging variety of questions by Senators in attendance. They will ask him to speak honestly about his views. In an advance look at his testimony, I see Berwick will begin by attempting a partial defense. We’ll see if anyone believes him. I will be on hand at the hearing, blogging it on Somewhat Reasonable beginning at 10 AM tomorrow. I hope you’ll tune in.

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