The president’s commitment to British-style of health care made clear

By Richard Land
Jul 12, 2010

Donald Berwick was nominated as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by Barack Obama in mid-April. Just over two months after that announcement, the White House revealed July 6 the president had given the Harvard pediatrician a recess appointment, completing an end run around Congress.

In bypassing the standard treatment for presidential appointees, President Obama rammed Dr. Berwick down the throats of the American people. This illustrates the extreme lengths to which this president and his administration are willing to go to establish a single-payer, British-style, socialized-medicine system, along with the rationing of health care to the elderly and infirm which inevitably accompanies it.

Then-Sen. Obama said in 2004 that he thought the single-payer system was the best system for the country but that it couldn’t be done all at once. ObamaCare was the first giant step toward socialized medicine, and there is no question this is the second.

Dr. Berwick has expressed extreme admiration (bordering on adoration) for the British National Health Service to the point of saying that he has romantic love for it. He has praised effusively the British government committee NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) that rations health care to the elderly and the terminally ill. He has expressed a strong desire to emulate that system here.

“Both the UK and the US are struggling to improve their troubled healthcare systems. Which is more likely to succeed? The two countries are strikingly similar in the problems they face, and equally dissimilar in their plans of action. I am a fan of both but, when bets are placed, my money will be on the UK,” Berwick wrote in a 2004 issue of the journal Quality and Safety in Health Care.

In a 2000 British medical journal article he wrote, “We think nationalized health care was a wise choice [for Great Britain] in 1948 and that it remains so now.”

There does not appear to be any doubt about his preference for a health care system design that puts the government, not the physicians or the patients, in the driver’s seat. And now he is the head of the influential government agency that runs the nation’s two federal public insurance programs — Medicare and Medicaid — that are at the core of the president’s plans for America’s “reformed” health care system.

Citizens are diagnosed later and treated later under a one-size-fits-all government health care system that rations care by necessity. According to this study, those who live in Britain and are at the mercy of that country’s health care system are 40 percent more likely to die from colon cancer, 88 percent more likely to die from breast cancer and 604 percent more likely to die from prostate cancer than those of us in the U.S.

I lived under socialized medicine for two years, 11 months and 4 days, but who’s counting? My wife and I lived in England as I pursued my doctorate at Oxford. It was a horrible system. I am absolutely convinced that many people under that system wouldn’t have died nearly as soon if they had lived in the U.S.

Apparently sensing trouble with the nomination or wanting to avoid giving health care “reform” any more attention than it is already receiving; Obama circumvented the standard confirmation process for government appointees even before the confirmation process began for Dr. Berwick.

There was no hearing on his nomination; reportedly the committee had not even completed vetting him. And Dr. Berwick had not completed the paperwork required by the Senate committee as an appointee.

He was given a recess appointment because he was going to face the grilling of a lifetime in the U.S. Senate.

To put Dr. Berwick in charge of administering $500 billion in cuts to Medicare just as the baby boomers begin to access that system is like putting the most ravenous fox in complete charge of the hen house. Dr. Berwick’s appointment should be headlined: “Medical rationing is here.”

He is the No. 1 advocate for rationing care to the elderly and to the terminally ill as cost-saving measures. Life just got a lot more dangerous for every American over 65.

The recess appointment process was established to ensure that the government could continue to operate even if the legislative branch was not in session, but that was not the case in Obama’s decision.

In making this appointment while Congress was out of town, the president further clarified his flawed vision for the future of the nation’s health care and reneged yet again on his verbal commitment to government transparency and accountability.

Further Learning

Learn more about: Life, End-of-Life Issues, Citizenship, Healthcare, National, Social Issues,


1 On Jul 14, 2010, at 1:06am, Susan wrote:

So how do we, can we, combat such placements by President Obama?

2 On Jul 14, 2010, at 2:57am, Anna Kay Maples wrote:

My husband and I are 67 and the words “life got a lot more dangerous for every American over 65,” really hits me hard, scares me and makes me feel very unimportant.  If Obama desires to emulate Britain’s socialistic health care system where the care is not as good especially for the elderly, why doesn’t he and all of congress adhere to the same care when they become of age? I do not know what the answer is for our health care but it certainly isn’t this. All this makes me wonder, “What country am I in?” Is this America? This is America and I want to know what I can do to change this?

3 On Jul 14, 2010, at 5:29am, jay jay Cambell wrote:

Berwick laments that US health care is “designed to focus on the acute needs of individual patients.” He argues for a different focus, social justice.
***Instead of doctors making decisions autonomously in the interest of their own patients, he wants a nationwide plan allocating resources “to anticipate and shape patterns of care for important subgroups.” These subgroups—which can be defined by age, disease affliction or socio-economic status—should be the “unit of concern,” not the individual patient. Controversy is mounting over Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama’s nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid—and for good reason. Berwick’s writings reveal that he would make radical changes—seniors beware.

4 On Jul 14, 2010, at 4:37pm, Joan Niehaus wrote:

I and my family lived in Surrey England for four years as expatriots for my husband’s U. S. company.  Countless expatriot families found the socialized medical system frightful.  We agreed that if we were truly sick we would fly back to the Good Old U.S. for treatment.

Two examples in my English neighborhood come to mind.  My neighbor’s 4-year old son was required by doctor’s script to have adnoid surgery.  The family was told there would be a year wait. The next week the father purchased Private Health Insurance.  The child’s medical condition was dealt with during the next week.

Second example of primitive health care dealt with a neighbor friend who had severe back problems and was told that she would have a year wait before surgery time was available.  She remained in bed, unemployed, with severe pain, as she was told.

This is the situation which we will be under if we do not repeal the just passed health care program.

5 On Jul 14, 2010, at 8:13pm, Joan Franck wrote:

Dear Dr. Land,
Thank you for keeping us informed about current events, especially the latest in Obama’s agenda for socialized medicine in America.  I am 63 years old.  My husband is retired.  We were forced to shop for a healcare plan as my husbands employer (county gov’t) took away health insurance for retirees.  We would rather pay for for our own health plan than be under socialized medicine.  I realize not everyone is as fortunate as we.  My husband has a relative who has stage 4 cancer and absolutely no medical insurance.  I guess, under the circumstances, socialized medicine may seem like a savior but, if what you say is true about socialzed medicine, and I believe you, then she would not benefit at all.  I am praying that our country will wake up and vote out of office all these liberal politicians who are ruining our country.

6 On Jul 14, 2010, at 9:38pm, Dr. David Shelley, Family Action Council of TN wrote:

Perhaps the greatest danger of Obama’s recess appointment of Dr. Berwick is that I’d guess 90% of Southern Baptists have never heard of it and are blissfully ignorant of this type of threat. In my state of TN, we have the second highest concentration of evangelical Christians in the country, but we also have the strongest constitutional protection of abortion of any state in the U.S. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” lamented the prophet Hosea. Thanks, Dr. Land, for trying to get the truth out to the American people! May our churches one day wake up to the realities all around us.

7 On Jul 14, 2010, at 9:47pm, Phillip wrote:

How do we stop this before it gets any worse? The people in the churches don’t seem to have a clue about what is going on.

8 On Jul 16, 2010, at 1:44am, Dr. Peter Metcalf wrote:

The criticisms of Dr. Berwick in this article are totally without merit. He has the temerity to say that the British have an evidenced based mechanism for determining what care is appropriate and effective for the elderly and the author interprets this as denial of needed care. Shouldn’t all our care be evidenced based where possible? Isn’t there something odd going on when the costs per medicaid recipient are almost 3 times as much in Miami as they are in Iowa, and the Iowa outcomes are better? In a study published by The Economist group today, the UK ranks first of 40 countries for senior care; the US ranks 9th. The author takes issue with Berwick’s statement that nationalized care was a good choice for the UK in 1948, and remains so now. But the UK is not the US, and it is not 1948. What worked there then for them would not be right for us. Dr. Berwick knows and understands this. The author of this piece is practicing political demagoguery and should be ashamed of himself.

9 On Sep 2, 2010, at 6:04am, Bradley Prince wrote:

I’ve been a Southern Baptist my whole life. I participated in summer mission trips to New Orleans and stayed at the Seminary. I was shocked to read about Richard Land participating in Glenn Becks propaganda rally last weekend.Then,while researching Mr. Land,I found the erlc site and his commentaries. What place does this type of political opinion have coming from an official of the Southern Baptist Convention? I thought my church was above partisan political bickering. Recently, I’ve been struggling with my faith and some bigoted attitudes in my home church have made it more difficult to feel like my church is where I belong.Learning that the SBC apparently has sold out to politics seals my conviction that this church has been corrupted. I’m saddened to learn this truth, but hope that I can find a new church home with a purer Christian denomination that doesn’t seek to divide people by cheap politics.

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