by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado

While most Americans weren’t paying attention, the Obama Administration pulled another fast one. Using a recess appointment, President Barack Obama named Dr, Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Dr. Berwick will thus exercise substantial control over how Obamacare is administered. His giant agency will account for about one-sixth of the economy and have a budget bigger than that of the Defense Department. It will profoundly impact not just the U.S. economy, but the lives of most Americans.

A recess appointment circumvents the Senate confirmation process, sparing Dr. Berwick the discomfort of having to answer questions about some of his controversial views on the rationing of health care. Recess appointments should be reserved for emergencies. Nominees for powerful appointive positions such as Medicine Czar should receive the public scrutiny that attends the Senate confirmation process.

American taxpayers recently received a rather hilarious mailer extolling the virtues of the new health care act and promising the miracle of better care for everyone at reduced cost. This propaganda piece was provided at taxpayer expense by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Many of us wondered at the time what that organization was. We are about to find out.

Much of the opposition to Obamacare centered around three concerns. First, was concern over a massive overhaul of what was arguably the finest medical care in the world. Second, was concern over the cost of a massive expansion in entitlements with the nation already so deeply in debt. Third, was concern that demand for health services would exceed supply which, together with financial constraints, would result in the rationing of health care. Excess waiting times and denial of services based upon age in some countries with nationalized or “free” health care were cited. Dr. Berwick’s appointment will surely heighten such fears and for good reason.

Dr. Berwick has expressed admiration for Britain’s national health service. Many Brits, however, don’t share that admiration. In that country, a senior citizen requiring a hip or knee replacement is apt to die of boredom or perhaps old age while waiting for it. He has been quoted as saying that “excellent health care is by definition redistributional.” On another occasion, he was quoted as saying that 8% of GDP is plenty for “best known” care and that a progressive policy regime will control and rationalize financing-control supply.

He’s right about that last statement. A progressive policy regime will control supply and who can deny that the Obama Administration is a progressive regime, determined to implement its progressive social agenda at any cost.

Mr. Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed Obamacare through a reluctant Congress in spite of the fact that a majority of Americans didn’t want it, felt that we couldn’t afford it and worried that their existing care would be degraded. Given the level of public opposition, it was the height of arrogance to force it on Americans in that manner, rationalizing that Americans would come to accept it. In other words, big brother knows what’s best for the little people.

This arrogance was compounded by this outrageous recess appointment of a man whose public utterances make it quite clear that he accepts the rationing of health care. His views should have been examined and debated in Senate confirmation hearings before being forced upon Americans.

Supporters of Obamacare correctly point out that health care is, in effect, already rationed. While we are justly proud of the excellence of our treatment and medical advances, access is a problem for some based upon age, cost or prior condition. These problems, however, could have been addressed without a massive government intrusion into the healthcare industry. The real issue is by what method and by whom should health care be rationed: by market factors or by bureaucrats?

Dr. Berwick’s appointment leaves little doubt as to what the Obama Administration has in mind in this regard. And by avoiding needed public debate on these important issues, Mr. Obama is once again demonstrating that he thinks he knows what’s best for the little people. No need for contentious debates. Don’t bother to read the fine print. Stop worrying. Government will do everything better, you’ll see.

This is the way it goes on the easy slide toward Socialism.


copyright 2010 J.F. Kelly, Jr

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.

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