In April, President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Donald Berwick to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Dr. Berwick currently serves as President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and is a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.
CMS is essentially the world’s second largest insurance company after the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), covering over 98 million people and overseeing roughly $800 billion annually in taxpayer-funded health care expenditures.
At issue is Berwick’s self-professed love affair with Britain’s socialized health care system. In his writings and speeches, Berwick has defended government rationing and advocated centralized budget caps on health care spending.
“Cynics beware, I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it,” Berwick said in a July 2008 speech at England’s Wembley stadium. “All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country.”
Obviously, Berwick is a great fan of the NHS, and even worked as a consultant on the project under Tony Blair. Berwick will have the opportunity to apply the ideas he gained through that experience with the power of the CMS position, which means that his nomination holds massive ramifications for not only Medicare and Medicaid recipients, but hospitals and doctors and, indeed, all Americans.
In the same speech at Wembley Stadium, Berwick said, “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.”
Dr Donald Berwick will fit right in with the Obama administration with views like that.