Berwick attempts to quell fears of rationing

Republicans have not had much of a chance to grill Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick on his healthcare views, considering his recess appointment last summer allowed him to avoid such a process. But yesterday House GOP members finally got their chance to have at him, the Boston Globe reports.

For two hours of often-tense testimony in front of the House Ways and Means Committee, Berwick defended the healthcare reform, insisting that the law will control rising medical costs, reduce waste and abuse, offer security to seniors, and expand preventative care. "I've never been more optimistic about the healthcare system in our country,'' he said. He also fielded questions on topics that surfaced when his name was first floated last year.

Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) asked him whether he was still "in love" with the British healthcare system, The Hill reports. Berwick's response: "There are strengths and weaknesses in every healthcare system in the world. The American healthcare system needs an American solution."

After Berwick refused to single out any provision of the healthcare reform that he didn't like, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) accused Berwick of not giving straight answers.

When Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) asked him whether he supports healthcare rationing, Berwick said, "I abhor rationing." At another point he said that he spent his whole life fighting rationing, The Hill reports.

After the hearing, Berwick said he hoped his testimony will put an end to rationing questions.

"A lot of the quotes represent misconceptions about what I believe," Berwick said.

In order to hang onto his job as CMS administrator, Berwick will have to face a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing.

To learn more:
- read the Boston Globe article
- here's the Politico article
- read The Hill blog

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