Possibly the most significant top-level presidential appointment yet was made last week, and there are plenty of opinions about what it means.
Donald Berwick was installed as the Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in a ‘recess appointment.’ This means that the Senate was in recess, and therefore did not confirm Berwick through the normal hearings and debates, without public discourse or vetting. This appointment method is enough to generate some controversy, but Berwick himself is creating enough controversy already.
The conservative media are fired up over Berwick’s past comments about redistribution of wealth, and healthcare rationing. Other sources are quick to defend his statements and record. With an attempt to find some material on both sides, here is a brief roundup of some interesting points:
A 2004, long review of Berwick’s record, and his revolutionary goals, from the Boston Globe archives.
A critical op-ed in the Med City News:
A CBS News report on the responses from both sides of the political spectrum.
Glenn Beck fuming on Foxnews.com:
Some negative vitriol from the Baltimore Sun:
Clearly, Donald Berwick is a polarizing figure. Is it possible that he is as radical as the conservatives would have us believe? Statements about “redistribution of wealth” are easy to pounce on and create fear. But hopefully the checks and balances of our government will prevent any truly radical shift toward Socialism. Concerning “rationing,” it is a harsh reality that rationing already happens, and maybe some more transparency and honesty in the system could be a good thing. It remains to be seen what U.S. healthcare will look like in the future, but it seems that Berwick has a bold agenda.