Sen. Rand Paul: Medicare Chief Berwick Is Qualified to Run Health Care System -- In England or Sweden

January 28, 2011 - 12:28 PM

Donald Berwick

Dr. Donald Berwick, nominated by President Obama to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (AP Photo/Goodman Media International, Inc.)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that Dr. Donald Berwick, re-nominated this week by President Obama to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is qualified to oversee a nationwide health care system in England or Sweden.

“I think Don Berwick would be a great head of health care in maybe England or Sweden or something,” Paul, an ophthalmologist, told CNSNews.com about Berwick, a pediatrician. “He said he admires the British system, so I think maybe we should nominate him to be head of the British system. In America, we have always thought a little bit differently.”

President Obama re-nominated Berwick on Wednesday to head the CMS. The controversial Berwick who, prior to his appointment, had openly supported health care rationing and other controversial ideas, was recess-appointed to the post in July, allowing him to forego the Senate conformation process.

Senator Paul also said that Berwick's approach to health care is not the way to do things in America.

“We’ve not really liked the concept of rationing,” Paul told CNSNews.com. “We’ve really not liked that health insurance should redistribute wealth. He said explicitly that it’s not about whether we will ration care but when and how we ration care. I’m very disturbed by his appointment. It was a recess appointment.”

Under Article 2, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution, Berwick’s recess appointment must “expire by the end of the next session” -- meaning Berwick must leave office by the end of 2011 unless the Senate puts him through the constitutionally required confirmation process in the intervening time. Obama’s renomination of Berwick means he could face Senate confirmation, with no expiration for his term.

rand paul

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (AP Photo)

In 2008, in a speech in England celebrating its government-run National Health Service, Berwick said, “Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must--must--redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional. Britain, you chose well.”

In a June 2009 interview published in Biotechnology Healthcare, Berwick was asked about rationing of health care and said, “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.”