Senators DeMint and Brownback Open to GOP Filibusters to Force Hearing on Medicare Chief

By Adam Cassandra | July 28, 2010 | 4:45 PM EDT

Dr. Donald Berwick, nominated by President Obama to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is expected to get the job through a recess appointment on Wednesday, July 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Goodman Media International, Inc.)

Washington ( – Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) on Wednesday indicated that they are open to filibustering any and all legislation  in the Senate until a confirmation hearing is held for Dr. Donald Berwick, who was recently recess-appointed by President Obama to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Dr. Berwick is controversial because he supports rationing health care services, has said a “just” health- care funding plan “must redistribute wealth,” and has praised Britain’s government-run National Health Service.

President Obama nominated Berwick back in April and then recess-appointed him on July 7, while Congress was away on its July 4 vacation. The Senate Finance Committee, headed by Sen. Max Baucus (D- Mont.), never held a hearing for Berwick.
At a news conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, asked Sens. DeMint and Brownback, “President Obama recess-appointed Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, and, as mentioned, he publicly supports Britain’s health care system and health care rationing. Do you believe that Senate Republicans should filibuster any and all legislation until a hearing is held for Dr. Berwick?”

Senator Brownback said,  “I’ll take a first shot at that. I think it’s wrong what the president did in this situation -- not that he didn’t have the ability to do this. But when you have this difficult of a topic, and this personal of an issue to all of the American people, to put somebody in place that has a philosophy that’s counter to where the vast majority of the American public is, I think is the wrong thing to do.”
“And I think we should look at whatever tools we have, to use them in this particular case,” said Brownback.
Senator DeMint said, “It was pretty obvious the president did not want a hearing of Berwick because the facts would come out and Americans would become more aware of it. Republicans did not block a hearing; the Democrats didn’t call one.”
“What we need to do about it is what we’re doing today, is to help people understand the massive complexity and destructive nature of this type of bureaucracy, and the fact that the president has put someone in charge of it who’s on record as believing in socialized medicine and rationing of care,” said DeMint. “We just need to make Americans aware of what’s happened here and they’ll take care of the rest in November.”
On the issue of filibustering legislation until a hearing is held on Berwick, DeMint said:  “I probably would because there’s not much they [Democrats] have on the docket that I wouldn’t try to stop anyway.”
The press conference, sponsored by Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee, was held to unveil a visual presentation and summary of the expansion of government into the health care system under the new health care law signed last March.
“We’re going to unveil one of the scariest things you’re going to see,” said Sen. Brownback, ranking member of the committee.  “Speaker Pelosi said initially of the health care bill, ‘We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.’  We’ll we’re going to reveal today to you what’s in it.”
The Republican composite of the new health care system points out 22 new bureaucracies, 17 insurance mandates, 19 special interest provisions, 59 new grant programs, 26 new demonstration and pilot programs, 4 new regulatory programs, and 4 loan repayment and forgiveness programs.
“If you look at these charts for a few minutes, you realize why a lot of us say that Obamacare is the end of the best health care system in the world,” DeMint said.  “There is no way quality health care can emerge from this type of bureaucracy.” 
DeMint also expressed concerns that the new bureaucracies and regulations of the health care system would discourage future physicians and health care professionals from practicing medicine due to the burdensome interference of government. 
“We’re going to have tens of thousands of new federal bureaucrats focusing on health care, but I can almost guarantee you we will have fewer doctors to deliver that health care,” said DeMint.  “For decades in our country, the medical profession has attracted the best and the brightest, and the hardest working Americans, but they go to school for much past what most of us do, hoping to make a good living, but also to serve the people.”
Sen DeMint said that the kind of system established by the health care law will not attract “the best and the brightest.”
“They will not work for government,” he said.  “They will not have government bureaucrats telling them how to practice medicine, and what they’re going to get paid.” 
“This is going to have a huge impact on health care,” he said.  “And not only will it destroy our health care system, but it is going to bankrupt our country.”
Two Republican physicians also attended the event to express their concerns over the government’s expanded role in the health care system.
“Ask yourself what’s wrong with this,” said Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a cardiovascular surgeon, pointing to the chart.  “Where is the doctor-patient relationship?”  
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who practiced medicine as an OB/GYN for nearly 30 years, and chairs the Congressional Health Care Caucus, said  the Obamacare plan was modeled after a plan for which Dr. Berwick is fond:  Britain’s National Health Service. 
“But isn’t it ironic that just this week we learned that the National Health Service over in Britain is now being walked back, and more power is being devolved to the doctors and to the patients,” Rep. Burgess said.
As reported, Britain’s National Health System (NHS) is set to undergo major budget cuts and bureaucratic decentralization to give more control over health care decisions to local health care providers, and take clinical decisions out of the hands of government bureaucrats. 
“We will make the NHS more accountable to patients,” British Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said in a July 2010 white paper. “We will free staff from excessive bureaucracy and top-down control.  Healthcare will be run from the bottom up, with ownership and decision-making in the hands of professionals and patients.” 
Rep. Brady said the Joint Economic Committee representation of the new health care system does not represent the entirety of government expansion because the new heath care law is so complex.
“This portrays only about one-third of the complexity of the final bill,” according to Brady.  “It’s actually worse than this.”