Krugman on Berwick

Any longtime reader of The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman knows he has a tendency to fall back into his most belligerent, partisan voice whenever he writes on the issue areas he knows the least about. Such is the case with Don Berwick, who Krugman uses as an example of his ‘the smartest should rule us’ approach to governance:

Berwick has spoken in favor of evaluating medical effectiveness and has had kind words for the British National Health Service, so he wants to kill grandma and Sovietize America.

So what lies down this road? A world in which key positions can only be filled by complete hacks, preferably interns from the Heritage Foundation with no relevant experience but unquestioned loyalty.

Inconveniently for Krugman, we face an example just this week — a tragic and sad one — of exactly the kind of world Berwick loves (and as we know, this is not an exaggeration): one where patients receive care on the timetable of the government directed system, not when they seek it.

A former NHS director died after waiting for nine months for an operation – at her own hospital.

Margaret Hutchon, a former mayor, had been waiting since last June for a follow-up stomach operation at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.

But her appointments to go under the knife were cancelled four times and she barely regained consciousness after finally having surgery.

Her devastated husband, Jim, is now demanding answers from Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust – the organisation where his wife had served as a non-executive member of the board of directors.

He said: ‘I don’t really know why she died. I did not get a reason from the hospital. We all want to know for closure. She got weaker and weaker as she waited and operations were put off.’

Mr Hutchon, of Great Baddow, Essex, said his wife, 72, had initially undergone major stomach surgery last June but the follow up procedures were repeatedly abandoned.

Berwick is fond of decrying systems that exist within the “darkness of private enterprise.” Deaths like these are the inevitable consequence of a system that is fundamentally out of sync with the world we live in — exactly the kind that applying Krugman’s musings on the rule of unelected elites in the U.S. would likely create.