CMS nominee Berwick may face questions on healthcare 'rationing' during confirmation hearings

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Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) (left) sits next to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) (left) sits next to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).

Donald Berwick, the current nominee for administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, likely will face questions over his views of end-of-life care during his Senate confirmation hearings, according to recent news reports.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, promised on Tuesday that he would conduct a thorough vetting of Berwick, CQ Healthbeat reported. Grassley said he would be interested to learn about Berwick's attitudes on end-of-life issues. Other Republican senators have expressed concerns that Berwick will favor “rationing” care, according to CQ Healthbeat.

Berwick has long been a proponent of providing “better care at lower cost,” President Obama said in a statement announcing Berwick's nomination. It is this approach towards simultaneous quality improvement and cost reduction that worries some people who fear his methods would lead to rationing care. But he has routinely said that such improvements should be made without resorting to rationed care. (McKnight's, 3/30/10)