Berwick backlash: Republicans criticize CMS nominee's support of cost-control measures in Britain

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Republicans in Washington have begun their attacks against Donald Berwick, President Obama's nominee for administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, according to recent news reports.

At issue in the attacks is Berwick's perceived support for rationing care, The Boston Globe reported. Many conservatives, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), charge that Berwick's experience working with Britain's National Health Service, as well as his support for cost control measures and “pay for performance” models indicate his support for denying care and delaying treatment. Some Republicans from rural areas have opined that under Berwick's leadership, “the rural health care system will consist of a Band-Aid and a bedpan,” the Globe reported.

Berwick's supporters brush off the attacks as distortions and scare tactics from conservatives who just wish to keep debating the recently passed healthcare law, according to the Globe. One of Berwick's goals has been for providers to reduce costs by 10% “without a single instance of harm, without rationing effective care, without excluding needed services for any population [they] serve.” (McKnight's, 3/30/10) Berwick's confirmation is widely expected, and despite their attacks, so far no Republicans have said they will vote against him, according to the Globe.