Berwick: Repealing healthcare reform would be a big mistake

In his first appearance before Congress after his highly criticized recess appointment, CMS head Donald Berwick told a Senate panel that repealing the healthcare reform would be a big mistake, The Hill reports.

"I can't think of a worse plan," Berwick told the Senate Finance Committee. If the bill were repealed, seniors would not get the 50 percent discount for prescription drugs, senior access to preventive services like colonoscopy and mammography would vanish and plans to improve the care of chronic illnesses and be more transparent would disappear. "It would be a terrible plan," he said.

Berwick contends that "every person in America, and certainly every beneficiary of Medicare and Medicaid, should be able to get all the care they want and need, when and how they want and need it."

For Republicans, their first chance to grill Berwick was anti-climactic, despite irritation over how President Obama appointed him (bypassing a Senate confirmation). The hearing, which lasted 90 minutes didn't leave much time for questions at the end, something Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) took issue with, according to The Hill. "It's like asking us to drain the Pacific Ocean with a thimble," he said. "We ought to have time to ask the most important man in healthcare sufficient questions."

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) told Berwick to expect harder questions in 2011 when Republicans take control of the House. "I can assure you that you will not get special treatment next year," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

To learn more:
- read the Bloomberg article
- read the Los Angeles Times article
- here's the Reuters article
- read The Hill's article
- here's Berwick's testimony

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