3/10/11, "Obama ‘Stands Firmly Behind’ Medicare Chief Who Insists Health Systems Must Redistribute Wealth," CNS News, Fred Lucas
"President Barack Obama is standing “firmly” behind Dr. Donald Berwick, the man he put in charge of Medicare and Medicaid with a "recess" appointment thus bypassing the normal Senate confirmation process.
Berwick's nomination has been highly controversial because of statements he has made including his insistence that
- in order to be just a health-care sytem "must redistibute wealth."
“The president stands firmly behind the nomination of Don Berwick because he’s far and away the best person for the job, and he’s already doing stellar work at CMS saving taxpayer dollars by cracking down on fraud, and
- implementing delivery system reforms
- (CMS is the acronym for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.)
The statement was posted at the top of the press briefing transcript
- in response to an unanswered question on Wednesday from CNSNews.com.
The White House stance follows some recent news stories that the administration’s support for Berwick was wavering. The stories appeared after 42 Senate Republicans wrote a letter to President Obama opposing Berwick at CMS because of his support for health care rationing and Britain’s single-payer, socialized health care system.
The Mar. 3 letter from Republican senators complained that
- no senators had the opportunity to ask Berwick a single question.
“As CMS now has the responsibility for restructuring insurance markets across the country, Dr. Berwick’s lack of experience in the areas of health plan operations and insurance regulation raise serious concerns about his qualifications for this position,” the letter said. “Furthermore, his past record of controversial statements, and general lack of experience managing an organization as large and complex as CMS
- should disqualify him being confirmed as the CMS Administrator.”
Every Republican in the Senate signed the letter except for Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio.
“Withdrawing Dr. Berwick’s nomination would be a positive first step in rebuilding the trust of the American people,” the letter says. “The occupant of this important position, which affects the health care of so many Americans on a daily basis, requires an individual with the appropriate experience and management ability. Our seniors and those who rely on Medicaid deserve no less.
President Barack Obama made the recess appointment for Berwick in July 2010 when Congress was in recess. That appointment will expire at the end of 2011 unless the Senate votes to confirm Berwick. In late January, Obama renominated Berwick for Senate confirmation.
In addition to the Senate GOP concerns stated in the letter to the White House, controversial comments made by Berwick over the years have raised questions about his qualifications to run the CMS.
Back in 2008, for example, in a speech in England celebrating that country’s government-run National Health Service, Berwick said: “Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must – must -- redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care
- is by definition redistributional.
CNSNews.com asked Berwick in January if he believes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, redistributes wealth in the civilized and humane way he envisions.
- “I think we are providing through health-care reform security for all Americans, which all Americans really want,” Berwick told CNSNews.com in January.
On Wednesday, CNSNews.com asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, “There have been some conflicting reports on where the White House stands with regards to Dr. Berwick at CMS. Is the White House still committed to seeing that through to confirmation?”
Carney said, “I confess that I’ll have to take that question. I don’t have anything, which is not meant to connote anything except that I don’t know. So let me take that question. We’ll get back to you.” Carney responded by late afternoon in the e-mailed transcript to White House reporters.
- Press reports have cast doubt on whether Democrats still support Berwick.
Politico reported on March 4, “Senate Democrats have given up on confirming Don Berwick as CMS administrator in the wake of a letter from 42 Republican senators opposing the nomination, sources tell Politico. Citing the GOP letter, a person familiar with the situation said Senate Democrats and the White House ‘can do the arithmetic’
- and now see that there's no way for Berwick to get the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.”
The New York Times reported on March 7, “Member of Congress, including Democrats, have urged the Obama administration to search for another Medicare chief after concluding that the Senate is unlikely to confirm President Obama’s temporary appointee, Dr. Donald Berwick.”
On March 8, The Hill newspaper, in a story carrying a headline, “Berwick: White House has my back,” reported, “Embattled Medicare chief Don Berwick said that the White House has supported him throughout a partisan battle over his future” at CMS."
5/11/2009, "GE a corporate sponsor," Washington Times, Wilkow, Rizzuto, Commentary
"For all of the carping liberals did for eight years about corporate cronyism in George W. Bush’s White House, they seem to turn a blind eye to the same behavior in President Obama’s. With plans in place for a major overhaul in the health-care industry,
- General Electric is positioning itself to become a major beneficiary of these health care reforms.
Recently at the Business and Social Responsibility Conference, General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt referred to America’s current economic crisis as part of a “reset” rather than part of an economic cycle, saying, “People who understand that will prosper in the future, and people who don’t understand that
- will get left behind.”
In the same address, Mr. Immelt, who is also a member of Mr. Obama’s economic recovery advisory board, added, “The intersection of government and business will be changed, maybe for a generation.” In other words, companies should be prepared to
Imagine that on the eve of the Iraq war, the CEO of Halliburton had declared that since Sept. 11, 2001, the relationship between the government and corporate interests have become one in the same.
Of course, Mr. Immelt’s rhetoric about corporate responsibility was undercut last year when GE’s once vaunted financial services business, GE Capital, was forced to ask the government for what amounted to a
- $140 billion government bailout.
Mr. Immelt’s words betray GE’s willingness to partner with the Obama government in order to turn a profit. To this end, GE has appointed Mr. Obama’s former nominee for secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, to the board of advisers for Healthymagination, an initiative launched by General Electric in partnership along with Intel, which will invest $6 billion over the next six years on “health care innovation that will help deliver better care to more people at lower cost.”
Mr. Daschle said, “We can only find real solutions in health care when
- business, government and their partners work together.”
In 2008, Mr. Daschle wrote the book “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis” in which he explains his radical solutions to the problems in American health care. In the book, Mr. Daschle calls for a British-style Federal Council on health care.
The profitability of GE’s new venture will depend heavily on the nationalization of the health care industry. The standardization and streamlining of health care recordkeeping, something on which Mr. Obama ran in 2008, would require a massive government contract for the technology
- to achieve such standardization."...
Of course Obama says his guy is saving millions of lives. Billions of dollars have already been spent implementing ObamaCare. Countless more are anxiously awaited by corporate interests. ed.