The Berwick file

March 05, 2011

Senators Urge Obama to Throw Out Dr. Berwick Nomination

M Catharine Evans

Led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo) 42 Senators signed off on a letter Thursday encouraging President Obama to withdraw Donald Berwick’s nomination to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Republicans would need only 41 votes to prevent his confirmation.

Dr. Berwick came under fire from Republicans last July when Obama installed him during a summer recess, bypassing the usual confirmation process. The Harvard professor, dubbed a “rationer-in-chief” by the opposition, was able to avoid scrutiny until November 16 when he finally appeared before the Senate Finance Committee. His most recent appearance on February 10 prompted Republican Senators to draft a rejection letter explaining their concerns:

Don Berwick is a contentious choice to head an agency with a budget larger than the Defense Department’s and implement the vast majority of the $2.6 trillion health law.  The White House’s handling of this nomination – failing to respond to repeated requests for information and circumventing the Senate through a recess appointment – has made Dr. Berwick’s confirmation next to impossible…In the spirit of cooperation, the President should withdraw his nomination

Both Congress and more than 100 million Americans that will be affected by this partisan health care reform plan need to know who is minding the store at CMS.  But there are just too many questions about what Dr. Berwick and CMS are doing or will do with the unprecedented power they have been given to reshape our health care system.

Withdrawing Dr. Berwick’s nomination would be a positive first step in rebuilding the trust of the American people.

As a member of Labour Party Tony Blair’s ‘Modernisation Program’ board Berwick grew very fond of England’s National Health Service (NHS) and praised its system:

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

During his latest appearance before the House Ways and Means Committee, Berwick was asked about redistributing resources; the former pediatrician claimed that his views do not emanate from  any ideology but reality: “poorer people tend to be sicker, and sicker people tend to be poorer.”

He also downplayed his romance with Britain’s government-run healthcare when asked if it should be emulated here in the States:

There are strengths and weaknesses in every health care system around the world, and we need to learn from each other,..the American system needs its own solution.

The current CMS chief draws praise from the American Medical Association, AARP and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka who said “there is no better individual than Dr. Berwick to lead the effort to transform our health care system into one that provides every patient with the best possible care at every interaction.”

Berwick wants to “transform” the healthcare system using his “patient-centered care” model. The term sounds unequivocally positive and according to the doctor himself “my principle is that patients should get all of the care they want and need, when and how they want and need it.” However, Berwick admits science-based evidence would be secondary to the patient’s desires. In a NYT article he states that the physician must see his patient as a “peer” and suggests that “medicine is not nuclear physics…most adults and kids can basically understand.”

Besides empowering patients and redistributing resources to level the playing field, the self-avowed “extremist” recommends “accountable care organizations” for Medicare recipients. The groups would discourage “unnecessary hospitalizations” for Medicare patients, directing them to community based medical facilities.

The Senators’ letter makes it clear that Berwick will not be able to dodge serious questions about his affinity for England’s socialized medicine, nor sidestep a probe of his own non-traditional philosophy.

Read more M.Catharine Evans at



CMPI LOGOThe Rationer in Chief

“For Republicans, the recess appointment of Donald Berwick as Medicare administrator is an effort to avoid public hearings on Berwick’s

statements about rationing health care and his praise of the government-run British health care system.” – USA Today

News from:

Obama recess appointment reignites debate over healthcare reform
By Mike Lillis
President Barack Obama’s recess appointment of Donald Berwick to lead Medicare was intended to avoid another high-profile congressional fight over healthcare reform. Instead, it’s renewed — at least temporarily — the well-worn partisan debate over the government’s role in medicine. Read more


MRC CyberAlertA daily compilation edited by Brent H. Baker, CyberAlert items are drawn from daily BiasAlert posts and distributed by the Media Research Center’s News Analysis Division, the leader since 1987 in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias.  

 visit today!Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday July 08, 2010 @ 09:15 AM EDT

1. ABC, NBC and CBS Mostly Ignore Obama’s Recess Appointment of Pro-Health Care Rationing Doctor to Head Medicare
Barack Obama’s decision to make a recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to run Medicare has been vastly ignored by the mainstream news media, despite the fact Berwick has made controversial statements favoring rationing of medical care. There was no mention of the President’s decision to make the recess appointment on Tuesday night’s NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News or ABC’s World News. In fact the embargo on the information continued through Wednesday morning as there were zero mentions on ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s The Early Show. Only NBC’s Today show mentioned the news as Lester Holt, in an 8am news brief on the July 7 show. (On Wednesday night, ABC, CBS and NBC again skipped Berwick, but all found time to mark Ringo Starr’s 70th birthday.)


Donald Berwick Exemplifies the Obama Agenda

Erick Erickson’s Morning Briefing July 8, 2010

The White House’s announcement that they will bypass the nomination process of the United States Senate to recess appoint Donald Berwick as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is an act of unconscionable hubris.

The White House claims this act is in response to “Washington game-playing”, accusing Republicans of planning to “stall the nomination” as long as possible. This is nothing more than a baldfaced lie. Republicans cannot stall this nomination – it is impossible for them to do so under Senate rules – as not one hearing has been called or scheduled. Even the New York Times doesn’t buy the White House’s explanation, reporting: “The recess appointment was somewhat unusual because the Senate is in recess for less than two weeks and senators were still waiting for Dr. Berwick to submit responses to some of their requests for information.”

Please click here for the rest of the post.

  July 7,  2010
Obama Uses Recess Appointment to Hide Berwick from Tough Questioning
Part One of  Three
By Dave Andrusko Good evening. A full plate today. Part Two gives the latest on the evidence for the link between induced abortion and an increase in breast cancer risk. Part Three deconstructs the outpourings of some frantic pro-abortionists. Over at National Right to Life News Today (, we talk more about Don Berwick, about Spain’s new abortion law, and the outstanding speech delivered at NRLC 2010 by Steven Mosher. Please send all of your comments to If you like join those who are now following me on Twitter at


Dr. Donald Berwick

President Barack Obama this morning used a recess appointment to install rationing proponent Dr. Donald Berwick as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which runs the nation’s massive Medicare and Medicaid programs. It is assumed that as a recess appointment, Berwick will avoid testifying before Congress, a time at which Republicans had promised a thorough vetting of the Harvard Medical School professor who is president and chief executive officer of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement. Technically, however, the nomination is still pending, and whether there is a hearing depends on Senator Max Baucus (D), who heads the Senate Finance Committee, where Berwick’s nomination hearing would take place.

The New York Times wrote, “The recess appointment was somewhat unusual because the Senate is in recess for less than two weeks and senators were still waiting for Dr. Berwick to submit responses to some of their requests for information. No confirmation hearing has been held or scheduled.”

Read more…


Obama Recess Appoints Rationing Advocate Donald Berwick to Medicare Post
Washington, DC ( — President Barack Obama used a recess appointment today to name rationing advocate Donald Berwick to become the director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The office oversees government health care programs and that worries pro-life advocates because Berwick has praised British programs that ration care.

The position is important because it will oversee implementation of the massive government-run health care plan that pro-life advocates say will foster rationing and also contains taxpayer funding of abortions.

Berwick is an outspoken admirer of the British National Health Service and its rationing arm, the National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE).

During a 2008 speech to British physicians, Berwick said “I am romantic about the National Health Service. I love it,” and calling it “generous, hopeful, confident, joyous, and just.”

“It’s unfortunate that at a time when our nation is facing enormous challenges, many in Congress have decided to delay critical nominations for political purposes,” Obama said in a statement about the appointment.

“With more than 180 nominees still pending before the Senate, it’s my hope that my colleagues in Congress will agree to put politics aside and move forward on these vitally important positions,” he said.

But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the recess appointment.

“As if shoving a trillion-dollar government takeover of healthcare down the throat of a disapproving American public wasn’t enough, apparently the Obama administration intends to arrogantly circumvent the American people yet again by recess-appointing one of the most prominent advocates of rationed healthcare to implement their national plan,” McConnell said. Full story at

Obama’s Health Care Rationing Czar

Posted: July 8, 2010 by U.S. Constitutional Free Press in Health Care, ObamaCare
Tags: , , , , , ,

Jeannie DeAngelis

The President of the United States took a Congressional recess opportunity to appoint another controversial czar. Renowned for rationing health care, Donald Berwick was appointed to the position of Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Dare we ask: Why does Obama need a rationing expert to oversee these two programs?

While Nancy is funning and sunning, Obama placed Czar Donald Berwick, president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in the position of deciding who lives and who dies. Obama circumvented the traditional confirmation venue because Berwick’s nomination was an uncertain one. Democrats realized a permanent vacation awaited them in November if the unpopular Obamacare discussion was broached again. Let’s just say Berwick was a touchy nominee.

Thus, Obama dictated and denied America the opportunity to have dastardly Donald explain comments he made in an interview last year with Biotechnology Healthcare. Berwick said “society makes decisions about rationing all the time,” and that the “decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly.”

Obama’s “blind” appointment spares Donald having to explain his praise for the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Berwick said NICE “developed very good and very disciplined, scientifically grounded, policy-connected models for the evaluation of medical treatments from which we ought to learn.”

Emphasis on Berwick’s comment: “policy-connected models for the evaluation of medical treatments.”

Obama insisted on ruining 90% of the population’s health care to insure 30-million uninsured individuals. Maybe those about to be herded toward life and death social policy mandates might like clarification on Berwick’s statement that “The social budget is limited — we have a limited resource pool. It makes terribly good sense to at least know the price of an added benefit, and at some point we might say nationally, regionally, or locally that we wish we could afford it, but we can’t.”

Berwick believes the “degree to which the knowledge base is linked directly to policy and decision is a matter of choice,” which will be Donald’s choice alone. If Obama gets his way, which he always does, death panel Donald will decide by advisory, mandatory, or policy-based measures who gets to live and who makes the sacrifice for the common good and dies.

Thankfully Republican leaders are speaking up on behalf of constituents at the mercy of Barry and the soon-to-be “expert on rationing.” Like Barack, Berwick believes excellent health care includes “redistribution.” The world’s finest health care system, like everything else, is about to be redistributed by government-appointed czars whose socialistic dreams mirror Barry’s utopian nirvana.

John Barrasso (R-Wyo) called the appointment “an insult to the American people,” saying “Once again, President Obama has made a mockery of his pledge to be accountable and transparent.” Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed, underscoring the reality that “Americans’ worst fears about health reform are being realized every day.”

Democrat Max Baucus (D-Mont) joined the chorus from across the aisle and “blasted the Obama administration for sidestepping Congress.” Baucus said “Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an essential process prescribed by the Constitution that serves as a check on executive power …ensuring crucial questions are asked of the nominee – and answered.”

Maybe before Obama overturns the First Amendment, McConnell, Barrasso and Baucus still have time to hold a nightly update press conference on the steps of the Capitol. It’s about time Americans are made aware of Obama’s covert actions, which ultimately stand poised to threaten lives.


July 07, 2010 | Permalink
FRC – Tony Perkins

Something Berwicked This Way Comes…

 Recess is usually a time for game-playing–and in Washington, it’s no different. With Congress out of his hair for the week, President Obama couldn’t resist hiring another radical socialist for one of the most important jobs in America. Knowing that many in his party wouldn’t support him, the President used a recess appointment to force Dr. Don Berwick into the top spot at Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). By sidestepping the confirmation process, the White House also avoided a messy public debate over Berwick’s fanatical support for “death panels” and rationing.

To justify the move, the President’s communications director said Republicans were stalling the nomination–but, as everyone with any political sense knows, the GOP couldn’t stall Berwick if they wanted to! Under Senate rules, the majority controls the committees. So it’s the Democrats–not Republicans–who decide when to hold hearings and schedule votes. They refused to do either, which should indicate just how offensive this nominee is. FRC has fought his appointment since the White House originally floated his name. As the head of CMS, Berwick will be in charge of almost a trillion dollars in benefits, not including the massive expansions of Medicaid under the new health care law. And just to give you an idea of how powerful his post will be, the Senate Republican Policy Committee explains that CMS is larger than all but 15 of the world’s economies.

Obviously, the President’s decision to seat Berwick without so much as a hearing is shocking for a job of this magnitude. “It’s nearly unprecedented for an administration to recess appoint [someone] that has not even come up for a hearing. It’s unfortunate that President Obama saw fit to take this extraordinary step,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), “and appoint an individual charged with overseeing a benefits budget larger than the economies of Denmark, South Africa, and Israel combined without so much as a hearing to examine his views.”

So what are these “views” that the White House is so desperate to cover up? For one, Berwick is a socialist. He was caught on video suggesting thatany health care funding plan that is just… must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer...” Secondly, he thinks it’s cheaper to let sick patients die than provide care. “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care,” he said last year, “the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” He is, in his own words, “romantic” about nationalized health care, particularly Britain’s system. He despises free market capitalism. And the list goes on and on.

Congress is right to be outraged. Senators like Tom Barrasso (R-Wy.) were stunned to learn that while they’re on vacation, President Obama gave Berwick the keys to one of the biggest federal agencies in the country. “Because this post administers the Medicare program, it touches virtually every senior in America …” he said. “This recess appointment proves [that Obama] did not have the support of a majority of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate… Once again, [the President] is going behind closed doors out of fear the American people will learn that Dr. Berwick plans to use rationing as a cost-cutting tool…”

This is just incredible and outrageous:

The death panels are a major concern, but an outright denial of benefits is more frightening:

    From the desk ofPeter Fotos
Director – Government Affairs


Please take a moment to read the following editorial by my colleague Ben Domenech regarding President Obama’s recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). After reading this, I believe you will agree that President Obama has once again abused his power to achieve political ends that are out of step with the American people.

Thank you.

-Peter Fotos 


On the Recess Appointment of Donald Berwick

By Benjamin Domenech

The White House’s announcement that President Barack Obama will bypass the nomination process of the United States Senate to recess appoint Donald Berwick as head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is an act of unconscionable hubris.

The White House claims this move is in response to “Washington game-playing,” accusing Republicans of planning to “stall the nomination” as long as possible. That is nothing more than a boldfaced lie. Republicans cannot stall this nomination and never could–it is impossible for them to do so under Senate rules–as not one hearing has been called or scheduled.

It is the White House that is playing games with the health policy of the nation and the welfare of the American people. In bypassing the traditional process through which the Senate advises and consents to nominees, the president is preventing senators and the people they represent from obtaining any answers from Mr. Berwick, who has repeatedly made statements that raise numerous questions about his suitability for this critical position.

The public needs to know whether he still endorses his remarks attacking private-sector solutions to health care problems, in support of “rationing with our eyes open” [link:, and expressing his affection for the United Kingdom’s notoriously slow and rationing-plagued National Health Service as “romantic.” [link:

The public would want to hear Berwick’s comments on the video footage discovered and highlighted by The Heartland Institute in May [], in which he made the statement, “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.”

Senators have expressed concerns about statements such as these, as well as Berwick’s background. He is a nominee with little management experience poised to head the second largest insurer on the planet, an agency with more funding to disburse than all but the top 15 economies in the world. The White House’s decision to make this recess appointment is as much a demonstration of the president’s unwillingness to engage in public debate about Berwick’s views as it is of his concern that some in his own party have privately questioned whether the nominee is outside the mainstream.

Such questions are of course appropriate. The White House’s decision, however, means they will not be answered. Understand: Berwick’s position as head of CMS will give him unprecedented power to apply his extremely unpopular views on health care policy under the president’s new health care regime. And thanks to the White House’s game-playing, he will not answer one question, not one, before he is ensconced in a position where his radical views will affect the life and health care of every American.

As we saw in the process by which Obamacare was rammed through Congress despite immense public opposition, there is nothing–not precedent, not tradition, not even the most basic notions of fairness or responsible governance–that will stop Obama and his allies in their quest to remake American social policy in their image.

Benjamin Domenech ( is managing editor of Health Care News.



 Galen Institute Commentary Alert

Obama Appoints His Rationer-in-Chief

National Review Online: Critical Condition
By Grace-Marie Turner
July 7, 2010

 President Obama is making another huge end-run around the American people with his recess appointment today of Dr. Donald Berwick to implement the massive health overhaul law enacted over the strong objections of the American people.

“This recess appointment is an insult to the American people,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a physician and leading Berwick opponent. “Dr. Berwick is a self professed supporter of rationing health care, and he won’t even have to explain his views to the American people in a hearing. Once again, President Obama has made a mockery of his pledge to be accountable and transparent.”

Berwick will have authority over an agency with the largest single budget in the entire U.S. government and over implementation of the most sweeping legislative overhaul of our health sector ever.  Without so much as a congressional hearing!

Berwick will run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and its $800 billion budget during crucial months as thousands of pages of regulations are being written determining how ObamaCare will be run.  The recess appointment lasts until the end of the 111th Congress in January, after which Berwick would have to be renominated and would likely face even greater opposition if Republicans make expected gains in Senate seats.

The nomination was highly controversial because of numerous statements Berwick has made professing his love for socialized medicine.

In speeches and articles celebrating the 60th anniversary of Britain’s National Health Service  in 2008, Dr. Berwick said “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.”

He not only loves it, he says it is “an example for the whole world — an example . . . that the United States needs now.”

“The N.H.S. is not just a national treasure; it is a global treasure,” Berwick wrote.

Berwick offered a suggestion to the British: “Please don’t put your faith in market forces.”

“In the United States,” he wrote, “competition is a major reason for our duplicative, supply-driven, fragmented care system.”

He has publicly saluted Britain’s socialized NHS for rejecting the “immoral” American system and “the darkness of private enterprise.”  He said that “the Holy Grail of universal coverage” cannot be achieved with consumer-centered health care, but only through “collective action overriding some individual self-interest.”

In an interview last year in the journal Biotechnology Healthcare, he said, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

Even The New York Times has taken notice of Berwick’s controversial nomination. Robert Pear reported last month:  “Long before the uproar over ‘death panels’ last year, Dr. Berwick was urging health care providers to ‘reduce the use of unwanted and ineffective medical procedures at the end of life.’”

His nomination hearings were certain to shine a bright public light on those comments, and he now is certain to gain the title of Rationer-In-Chief.

Even a columnist with Dr. Berwick’s home-town newspaper, The Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby took direct aim at Berwick. He wrote Obama has been adamant that his health care overhaul would not put Americans “on the road to British-style, government-run medicine.”

But now the president has appointed a man to implement his plan who has a love-affair with the NHS.

Jacoby wrote:  “No one can deny that America’s health care system is flawed in many ways. But when it comes to the standard that matters most — the quality of health care provided — our haphazard, expensive, insurance-based system towers above the NHS. By one metric after another — cancer survival rates, performance of diagnostic tests, availability of CT and MRI scanners, consultation with specialists — U.S. health care is superior.”

It was clear that there were very good reasons Berwick was going to have trouble getting confirmed, yet White House Communications Director, Dan Pfeiffer, charged in his blog Tuesday night that “Many Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points.” But Republicans have no power to determine Senate hearing schedules or the votes to stop a vote.

“Don Berwick is going to have a tough time at first, but members are going to be calling him for local favors,” says former GOP hill staffer and current health strategist Alec Vachon. “The best thing he can do is return those calls within 10 minutes. It’s the quickest way to build bridges.”

With power over an agency’s whose budget is larger than all but 15 of the world’s economies, Vachon could be right.  But let us hope and pray that he is wrong and that principle will prevail over politics.



Run Health Care 


Obama Plays By His Own Rules

“President Obama will bypass Congress and appoint Dr. Donald M. Berwick, a health policy expert, to run Medicare and Medicaid, the White House said Tuesday… Mr. Pfeiffer said the president would appoint Dr. Berwick on Wednesday. Mr. Obama decided to act because ‘many Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points,’ Mr. Pfeiffer said.” – The New York Times


Barack Obama Will Recess Appoint Donald Berwick

While Congress is on recess, Barack Obama will appoint Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or “CMS”.

Presidents tend to appoint controversial nominees with recess appointments because they otherwise can’t get the votes. Barack Obama has appointed a number of extremely controversial people via recess appointment when he otherwise hasn’t had the opportunity to name them czars – positions that don’t need congressional approval.

For example, Barack Obama named Kevin Jennings the “safe schools czar” bypassing congressional action. Jennings, who openly bragged about encouraging an underage boy to engage in a sexual relationship with a man who solicited the boy in a bus station bathroom, could never have been confirmed.

But for all the disgusting sordid stuff in Kevin Jennings’ past, Donald Berwick is far worse.

Donald Berwick openly wants to destroy the American medical system.

Please click here for the rest of the post.

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