Kristan Hawkins: Berwick's appointment hurts special needs patients

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While most of America was on vacation, President Obama bypassed the Senate confirmation process and on July 7 appointed a radical, Dr. Donald Berwick, to the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the nation's Medicaid and Medicare system.

While I was helping my 1-year-old son, Gunner, do his life-prolonging breathing treatment, his president betrayed him and others who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Obama appointed a man who advocates rationing of health care and praises the disastrous British National Health Service to head one of the most important positions in the entire U.S. health care system.

Berwick's recent appointment is a clear signal of what the Obama administration is looking to accomplish with the new national health care system. Many in the media had speculated that it would be difficult for Berwick to pass through the Senate confirmation process because of his radical views, and, after looking deeper into Berwick's past, it is easy to see why so many were concerned with his appointment.

In 2004, Berwick worked closely with Great Britain to assist it in remaking its nationalized health care system. Details of his work with Britain can be found in a January 2004 Boston Globe article appropriately titled "The Revolutionary."

What is Berwick's plan for Medicare and Medicaid? One can only begin to see his plan by looking at another project of his, the British health care system.

The countless stories now coming out of Britain about deadly misdiagnoses, low cancer survival rates, and lack of medical facilities may be what is coming to the United States, especially because one of the men responsible for that deadly system is now in charge of America's health care system.

What is worse, the British system will not even allow patients to pay out of pocket for procedures and medicine to prolong their life. In addition, the British system coordinates end-of-life counseling, and if the patient is in serious pain, morphine is given with no medical assistance and no new technology to assist.

Berwick http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=393896 has stated that, "Most people who have serious pain do not need advanced methods, they just need the morphine and counseling that have been around for centuries." Coming care for the terminally ill and elderly on Medicare: morphine and counseling.

Berwick has voiced his support numerous times in past for rationing of care: "We can make a sensible social decision and say, 'Well, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit [new drug or medical intervention] is so expensive that our taxpayers have better use for those funds.' We make those decisions all the time. The decision is not whether or not we will ration care -- the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly."

With both Medicaid and Medicare consuming 19.5 percent of our federal budget, one can only assume that Berwick has been silently appointed to cut costs within the U.S. health care system. What will he choose to cut? Looking at Berwick's project, British NHS, it looks like services for those who need it the most, the terminally ill and elderly, will be first to go.

Make no mistake about it, whatever Medicaid and Medicare decide to do, private health plans will follow their lead.

President Obama and Berwick's goal is to turn the U.S. health care system into a redistributive system. Berwick has stated, "Any health care plan that is just civilized and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer to the poorer."

For those like my son who need expensive, lifelong treatment, our only hope is that the U.S. system doesn't "redistribute" to the British NHS extreme, where they won't even let patients pay out of pocket for lifesaving treatments because it is unfair to those who can't afford them.

Berwick is not the revolutionary our nation needs.

Kristan Hawkins is executive director of Students for Life of America.

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