Monday, March 14, 2011

The Character Assasination of Dr. Don Berwick

Dr Don Berwick, one of the most highly qualified administrators ever nominated for public office, is about to be sacrificed on the altar of politics.  Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, recently told reporters  that he has discussed Berwick's nomination with Republican senators and they plan to oppose Berwick under any circumstances. “Republicans won,” he said about the nomination.

Trouble is, I don't remember hearing about any fight.

Tom Curry, Executive Director and CEO of the Washington State Medical Association wrote in his March 14th Monday Memo to physician members that:

This is one of those instances where it would be better to fight and lose (while defending one’s view of the underlying reform legislation) than “duck and cover”.

I agree. This deserves to be a fight - a big fight - a loud fight. Dr Berwick is a world leader in understanding the problems of quality and inefficiency in US healthcare. It is an area of study and learning that he has dedicated his life to. His nomination is supported by all of organized medicine. Why? Because physicians know the quality of his work and the seriousness of our problems. The barrier to his confirmation is, interests that profit from our current mess are going all out to scare people and paint Don Berwick as a radical who wants to ration their health care. Consider the website This site is a project of The Heartland Institute, who according to sourcewatch is "a frequent ally of, and funded by, the tobacco industry" who "now refuses to publicly disclose who its corporate and foundation funders are". They are also known to have been funded in the past by the tobacco, oil and gas industry as well as the infamous Koch Brothers.

Do we want shadowy, secretly funded pressure groups paid for by big business to make our decisions for us, before debate occurs, or do we want a full discussion in the light of day? This is disgusting. Our legislators need to hear from us now.


David A. Lynch, M.D. said...

In Dr Berwick's own words:

* "Some is not a number. Soon is not a time." (slogan for IHI's completed 100K Lives Campaign, now slogan for IHI's 5 Million Lives Campaign in progress)
* "I have climbed Mount Rainier five times. Each time I made that tough trek, my risk of dying was about 100 times smaller than the risk I will face on the operating table."
* "We are guests in our patients’ lives; and we are their hosts when they come to us. Why should they, or we, expect anything less than the graciousness expected by guests and from hosts at their very best. Service is quality."
* "We are not hosts in our organizations so much as we are guests in our patients’ lives."
* "Some say that doctors and patients should now be partners in care. Not so, I think. In my view, we doctors are not our patients' partners; we are guests in our patients' lives. We are not hosts. We are not priests in a cathedral of technology."
* "You could have protected the wealthy and the well, instead of recognizing that sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker and that 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."

Craig Casey said...

sounds to me like he should have power over life and death, he's well accomplished. Still his sock puppet Tavenner goes in his place. So the rationing can still begin.

Craig Casey said...

His nomination is supported by all of organized medicine. Do you have any data to support this claim?