Front and center to the argument are comments Berwick made praising Britain's government-run health service. That system, the senators said, has a prolonged history of holding back or delaying care to certain severely sick patients.
All three senators have, since the beginning of the reform debates, warned that measures in the bill would lead to rationed care.
Roberts said he met with Berwick yesterday to press him on the statements. “You would have thought he never heard of the British healthcare system,” he said. “But facts are stubborn things and statements are stubborn things.”
Roberts and other Republicans warn that measures adopted in the new reform law, including those that would create a center for comparative effectiveness research and a Medicare payment advisory panel, could lead to decisions to greatly restrict medical care.
“It's not that you can't pay attention to viable research that will help you through this and achieve cost savings, but not at the expense of patient care,” Roberts said.
President Barack Obama nominated Berwick, 63, a pediatrician, patient-safety advocate, and founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass, on April 19.
The confirmation process must first go through the Senate Finance Committee, which has yet to schedule a hearing date.