Editor's note: Opposition to Dr. Donald Berwick's confirmation as CMS administrator sparked a flurry of letters to the editor. Here are some of them:
Berwick is reform victim, plus others
Regarding “Baucus says Senate won't confirm Berwick,” ModernHealthcare.com, March 8:
It is unfortunate to lose the capabilities of Dr. Donald Berwick as CMS administrator. In the past 15 years, he has done more to positively influence clinical transformation and patient safety than any other healthcare executive or Washington bureaucrat of whom I can recall. Unfortunately, he was caught in the middle of the political Battle of Obamacare.
Berwick's comment about the British single-payer system fed fuel to a fire that will consume us all: political partisanship. British health is a two-tiered system, and the public tier is a failure. Even their leadership is trying to move away from it. I'm sure Berwick's comment was taken out of context. His appointment should have been about advancing clinical transformation and patient safety, delivering a streamlined integrated provider network and improving the CMS-driven payer systems. I await his return to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and his next transformational campaign.
Ed BonnConsultantFormer CEOSouthern Regional Health SystemAtlanta
Indiana has AWOL Democrats who have abrogated their jobs, and now this from Republicans in Congress.
I agree Don Berwick has done more than anyone else to improve quality and safety in healthcare by forcing the discussions. It is so unfortunate that we as a nation cannot have a meaningful discussion about end-of-life care and the wasted resources consumed by futile and other care without the term “death squads” being thrown around. Some of my most grateful families are those to whom was recommended less care or hospice instead of additional and often painful ongoing treatment. Being alive is not living. Only one person has gotten out of this world alive, and neither you nor I are likely to be next.
Dr. Bernard J. EmkesMedical director of managed-care servicesSt. Vincent HealthIndianapolis
It is unfortunate that the U.S. Senate might choose to block the appointment of CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick. Most physicians aware of his service record and commitment to patients have applauded his selection. What a loss!
Dr. Ron PionMedical TeleCommLos Angeles
Regarding “GOP moves are embarrassing,” reader letter, ModernHealthcare.com, March 10: Embarrassing is approving a major piece of legislation with very little support from the country. Not to mention the lack of bipartisan support. CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick was indeed a casualty, but I am afraid there will be many more before this epic battle gets resolved. The lack of facts and clarity that went into the process and bill itself is embarrassing, and those who were involved should be ashamed.
Rich D'AmaroCEOSubsidium HealthcareAtlanta
I am a true Republican and have spent 25 years reducing the cost of healthcare. I am a board-certified healthcare executive and a fellow in the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. It saddens my heart to hear Dr. Donald Berwick is not going to run the CMS.
He has spent the past 20-plus years running the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Berwick has dedicated his life to the improvement of healthcare, and he would have given an honest effort to improve the healthcare system. It is too bad that he was nominated by Obama, because he was the best choice for our country.
Ben CarpenettiCEOCarpenetti & AssociatesNashville
It does not sadden my heart. He lost my support when he stated that he liked the British system of healthcare. If that's the kind of healthcare he likes, let him go to Britain and run it there. They don't seem to be doing so well with it from all I have read.
There are lots of ideas for taming the cost of healthcare and how it is paid for that do not have to include socialized medicine. Yes, it's complicated, but it is fixable. Put the onus back on individuals to provide for their healthcare. Give them the money that they pay into Medicare and put it into a 401H healthcare account. That money can only be used to pay for healthcare. Allow people to purchase low-cost catastrophic insurance plans for themselves and their families to cover the cost of trauma and unforeseen emergencies. Put caps on malpractice awards. Allow insurance to be sold across state lines. Require a U.S.-issued ID for access to anything but true emergency care. Repeal the “anchor baby” amendment. All these things would impact the cost of care and how it is paid for while retaining the individual's ability to choose his physician, hospital and treatment plan.
Barbara ClarksonCardiovascular database administratorMemorial University Medical CenterSavannah, Ga.
Regarding “Expect ACO regs in next two weeks: Sebelius,” ModernHealthcare.com, March 11: I will be the first to acknowledge that we have problems in healthcare. I would like to see more lower-level involvement in the making of regulations. I feel that nurses need to be involved (the working ones and not those who haven't done patient care in years). We as the working backbone of nursing have some very good ideas to share.
Jean SmallRegistered nurseAmarillo, Texas
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