"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Medicare Nominee Calls Britain’s National Health Service “A Global Treasure”

June 1st, 2010 by mopns · No Comments

Throughout the year-long debate on President Obama’s massive, unpopular health care bill, opponents were lectured repeatedly that concerns about it resulting in rationing and decreases in the quality of care were ill-founded. Those are well-known hallmarks of the health care system in Britain, the National Health Service. But we’re now learning about the views of Donald Berwick, the man Obama has nominated to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and he’s quite enamored of the troubled British health care system.

Politico reports today, “Berwick has called Britain’s National Health Service ‘one of the greatest health care institutions in human history’ and ‘a global treasure.’ He once said it sets an “example” for the United States to follow. . . . ‘I fell in love with the NHS,’ Berwick said in a 2008 speech of the system that he worked on since the 1990s. ‘To an American observer, the NHS is such a seductress. … Like any lover, it took me a while to see the blemishes of my beloved, though I soon had help from people quite willing to point out the warts.’” This is the person who will be implementing much of the health care overhaul the Democrats rammed through Congress in the face of overwhelming public opposition?

Obviously, Republicans have serious concerns about Berwick’s nomination. Politico notes, “A meeting last week between Berwick and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell failed to allay any of the Kentucky Republican’s concerns, said a Republican Senate aide briefed on the meeting. The aide said Berwick didn’t appear to feel compelled to dispel the issues surrounding his nomination.” And Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, “He is, as far as I am concerned, bad news. . . . If he wants to turn America into the National Health Service in England — he thinks that is the model — he is going to find a lot of pushback.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), one of only two doctors in the Senate, pointed out some of the serious problems NHS has in a recent floor speech: “The question presented to the Prime Minister of England was: What about the National Health Service? . . . . So here you are, you have had your opportunity to see a cancer doctor, you have had your test, you have your diagnosis. What is the best the people of England are being promised by their Prime Minister? The best they can expect is to have an operation within 18 weeks. The question here is: How many Americans, how many Members of this body, how many people across this country are going to see that as satisfactory? Because that is where we are heading with this health care bill that is now signed into law. How many people want that: You will have your operation in 18 weeks.”

Sen. Barrasso further explained, “[Berwick] has a history of support for government rationing of government health care resources on the grounds of cost—not on the grounds of quality, not on the grounds of survivability but on the grounds of cost. He has said, as recently as last June: ‘The decision is not whether or not we will ration care—the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.’”

The president has nominated someone who admits care will be rationed and who has professed his “love” for the British NHS, which features extensive rationing and excessive wait times for care. This is not what Americans were looking for in health care reform. In fact, Democrats went out of their way to assure Americans that this is not what they would get from the president’s health care plan. Berwick’s nomination will receive a great deal of scrutiny.

Related:

Rasmussen Reports: 60% Favor Repeal of Health Care Law

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  • 1 Matthew // Jun 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Interesting perspective from a guy who lives in the UK. He does say that the health care there works very well. However, he also points out that the system was developed in the days after world war II, when most of the society was speaking “Christian”. And then he adds that British wonder how far the state should bail out self-inflicted injuries (alcohol or sexual transmitted disease).

    http://www.chriswalley.net/?s=healthcare&x=0&y=0&=Go

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