Mar
05
2011
3

Is Sir Donald out as Medicare czar?

Not exactly: the Politico reports that, in wake of forty-two Senators sending a letter indicating that Sir Donald Berwick is simply unacceptable for the job of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) head*, Senate Democrats have made an answer to that by… giving up trying to get Berwick nominated.  There’ll be no fight, no confirmation hearing, no standing on what the Democrats consider ‘principle.’  They’ll just let him keep going until later in 2011.  I’m not fully checked out on the minutiae of recess appointments, but presumably the President can make another recess appointment for Berwick during the next time that the Senate is in recess for long enough.

But that’s not really the point; the point is that it’s clear that one thing is true in the 112th Congress that was also true in the 111th.  To wit: Democrats won’t fight.  Oh, sure, when they have the votes they’re the toughest guys in the room, and will be happy to walk all over you: witness that ludicrous strutting over passage of Obamacare back in 2009.  But the second that they don’t have a sure thing, Democratic politicians cave (see the defeat of the Obama tax hikes during the lame duck session).  They cave – or, as we’re seeing in the states, Democratic politicians run away.  Because Democratic politicians are cowards, from top to bottom.  And here’s the fun part: we know it.  Which is why those forty-two Senators sent the letter.  Which is why Senate Democrats caved on the cuts in the current CR.  Which is why they’ll break later on the budget.  They just don’t know how to be brave and fight for their beliefs**.

Poor things. (more…)

Jul
20
2010
3

Unpacking the Berwick Surprise.

[UPDATE]: Ben Domenech over at the New Ledger calls this a “formality.”

Roll Call reports:

President Barack Obama sent the Senate his nomination of Donald Berwick as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday — a move that comes two weeks after Obama bypassed Congress to put his stalled nominee in the post until the end of 2011.

Via Senatus: background here; and Allahpundit over at Hot Air reports that he’s “honestly shocked.”  It is somewhat shocking; you don’t usually see an administration so openly caving in public. (more…)

Jul
16
2010
1

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D, MD) and the imaginary Berwick confirmation hearings.

Wait, what?

I may need to walk back on my scorn of Rep. Jackson-Lee’s praise of the non-existent relationship between the non-existent nations of North and South Vietnam. If this video below is any indication, then there’s a fairly nasty virus going around Capitol Hill that turns Democratic legislators into memory-impaired, babbling zombies.

Yes, even worse than usual.

Yes, you remember correctly: in point of fact Donald Berwick is not getting a confirmation hearing, largely because the President is too scared of what the GOP will say about this particular radical (and by extension, what the GOP will say about the President’s judgment in wanting to hire said radical). That’s one issue; the other is, apparently Senator Mikulski isn’t… really paying attention to her duties these days. It beggars belief that the senior Senator from Maryland is unaware of a top-tier controversy and cause for criticism, but it’s self-evident from the video that she didn’t have a clue and was operating largely on autopilot.

So. Brain fever, you think? It’s certainly a more charitable conclusion than the alternative, which is that she and Jackson-Lee are as about as sharp as a sack of wet mice.

(more…)

Jul
07
2010
1

#rsrh QotD, Donald Berwick edition.

Not-quite-what-he-intended-to-say sub-edition:

President Bush, a White House official said, “was not facing the same level of obstruction.  Twenty-eight of President Obama’s nominees have been held on the Senate floor for more than three months. At this point in the Bush administration, only six of his nominees had been waiting that long.”

Interestingly enough, at this point the two administrations had something in common: a Democratic-controlled Senate.  Apparently, the Obama administration is now admitting that their boss is less competent at domestic politics than was Bush; something that we all already knew, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.

See also Hot Air for more, and The New Ledger for why all of this is abject cowardice on the part of the White House.  A quick summary: Donald Berwick hates our healthcare system, wants to replace it with the monstrosity that the British have saddled themselves with, and the White House knows that a confirmation hearing would a: have all of that come out; and b: force a bunch of Democratic Senators to vote in his favor just before the midterm elections.

You know, George W. Bush wasn’t afraid of a little controversy when he thought that the underlying issue was important enough.  How does it feel to have voted for a coward for President, anyway? – I wouldn’t know; I’m a Republican.

Moe Lane

Jun
04
2010
3

Proposed Medicare Czar likes pretty, pretty pictures.

Witness this map.

It’s called the Dartmouth map, and as the New York Times and Hot Air notes, it was used by the Obama administration to argue that there were existing inefficiencies in the Medicare system that could be trimmed away, thus permitting a scenario where Medicare funding could be cut significantly while not sacrificing care (indeed, the map’s creators argue that it demonstrates that cutting Medicare will improve care). In fact, Sir Donald – that being the guy who loves the British Health Service to, ahem, death – is particularly enamored of this map:

Dr. Donald Berwick, nominated by President Obama to run Medicare, called it the most important research of its kind in the last quarter-century. In March, in response to the Congressional Democrats who would have otherwise withheld their support for the health legislation, the administration made a promise. It said it would ask the Institute of Medicine, a nongovernment advisory group, to consider ways of putting the Dartmouth findings into action by setting payment rates that would punish inefficient hospitals and reward efficient ones.

Just one small problem: it’s not actually a map of inefficient care. Just expensive care. More from the Times: (more…)

Jun
01
2010
1

Obamacare revisited: Sir Donald’s Medicare czar nomination fight.

Sounds like a fun way to spend the summer, doesn’t it?

President Barack Obama spent the last year insisting he doesn’t want to turn the American health care system into a carbon copy of the government-run British system.

But Obama’s pick to run Medicaid and Medicare — Donald Berwick — is a pediatrician and Harvard University professor with a self-professed “love” of the British system.

Berwick has called Britain’s National Health Service “one of the greatest health care institutions in human history” and “a global treasure.” He once said it sets an “example” for the United States to follow. And his decadelong efforts to improve the NHS were so well-regarded that Queen Elizabeth granted him an honorary knighthood in 2005.

(more…)

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