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Berwick’s Treasured Health System Ratchets Up Rationing

July 25, 2010

Dr. Donald Berwick, the pediatrician President Obama installed at the helm of Medicare and Medicaid without Congressional input, has said he is “in love with the NHS,” Britain’s government-run health system.  Unable to contain his true feelings, Dr. Berwick went on to say that NHS was “such a seductress,” and that it was “not just a national treasure, it is a global treasure.”

Well, Berwick’s national treasure recently announced plans to save money by:   

  • Kicking terminally ill patients out of the hospital;
  • Rationing common procedures — including hip replacements and cataract surgery; 
  • Telling dying cancer patients to manage their pain on their own if their condition worsens at night or on weekends so that doctors don’t have to come in to treat them; 
  • Closing nursing homes for the elderly; and 
  • Slashing the number of hospital beds, including those for the mentally ill, and discouraging General Practitioners from sending patients to hospitals.

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, who is less enamored with the NHS than Berwick, said the cuts were “astonishingly brutal.”  She further stated that, “These are not unusual procedures, this is a really blatant attempt to save money by leaving people in pain.” 
It’s no wonder that one British columnist wrote that, “Copying the NHS is the last thing the US should do,” even though that’s exactly what Dr. Berwick plans to do.  Consider one of Dr. Berwick’s most infamous and telling 
statements about where he’d like to take the U.S. health care system: “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”  It’s clear that Dr. Berwick’s utopian health care system rations care.  The question is how soon it will take Berwick to follow his heart, succumb to his seductress, and ration care for America’s most vulnerable, the millions of seniors, poor, and disabled on Medicare and Medicaid.