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GOP Goons Force Health Expert Don Berwick to Withdraw

GOP target: Medicare for all (photo: Joe Newman)

Donald Berwick, who’s been heading up efforts to improve Medicare service and lower costs, has withdrawn his nomination, another thoroughly competent, innocent victim of the Republican Goon Squad whose dishonest efforts to destroy the concept of government in the public interest have no moral boundaries.

As soon as Obama nominated widely regarded Donald Berwick to be the head of Medicare, the Republican Goon Squad, headed by Orrin Hatch, set out to make sure he would never be confirmed. Their reason?  He’s competent, honest, experienced, well respected, knows how to lower Medicare costs, and worst of all, he once noted that the British universal health care system, protected by UK Conservative, Liberal and Labor governments alike, was a good system.

The idea that a man who thought providing quality, universal health care at a cost about half of the US average would be in a position to help guide implementation of the new Affordable Care Act was too much for the destructive anarchists who currently represent the Republican Party.

Did he have good ideas about how to deliver care to seniors while controlling costs and lowering the impact of Medicare costs on the federal budget?  Horrors, the man must be in favor of “death panels!”  So the GOP sent out one of its most dishonest hacks to slander a decent man.   From the AP:

Medicare chief Don Berwick, a Harvard professor widely respected for his ideas on how to improve the health care system, became the most prominent casualty of the political wars over a health care overhaul whose constitutionality will be now decided by the Supreme Court. . . .

Berwick’s fate was sealed early this year when 42 GOP senators — more than enough to derail his confirmation — asked Obama to withdraw his nomination. His resignation takes effect Dec. 2.

Berwick’s statements as an academic praising Britain’s government-run health care had become a source of controversy in politically polarized Washington. Although he later told Congress that “the American system needs its own solution” and Britain’s shouldn’t be copied here, his critics were not swayed.

The AP notes that the GOP accused Berwick of advocating “rationing,” an absurdly false distortion of the totally sensible notion that a medical peer review group would examine which treatments work and which don’t and let doctors/hospitals know.  But that didn’t matter to hatchet man Orrin Hatch, whose task was to smear Berwick and pin a defeat on Obama.

It’s the whole country that loses when decent, competent people with good ideas who are willing to become dedicated public servants can’t be confirmed merely  because their ideas might actually work and further the pubic interest.   Occupy the GOP.



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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

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