Obamacare

Rationing the Debate About Rationing

|

Rash-on. Rash-off.

The Washington Post's profile of Obama's Medicare administrator Donald Berwick is built around the assumption that he is probably too controversial to keep his job beyond this year. Last summer, the president appointed Berwick to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during a Congressional recess in order to avoid a drawn out nomination fight, which likely would have focused on the question of whether Berwick supports government rationing of health care. It's expected that Obama will wish to avoid that fight once again, and so won't reappoint Berwick once his term is up later this year.

The profile accepts that Berwick remains controversial, but doesn't really question whether the controversy over Berwick's nomination is warranted. If anything, it works from the understanding that it isn't, putting the rationing charge to the Medicare chief and letting him deny it without questioning any further. The lack of discussion about Berwick's record is a shame. Berwick's longtime focus on cost-cutting is frequently overlooked by his detractors, but as I wrote last summer, there's a legitimate debate to be had about the health care ideas he's said he supports, in particular, Berwick's contention that public health administration should seek "to constrain decentralized, individual decision making" and "to weigh public welfare against the choices of private consumers." When Obama chose to nominate Berwick, he chose to avoid discussion and debate over those questions. Sadly, The Post's profile makes the same choice. 

NEXT: For All The Talk About the Debt Ceiling & Trimming Bazillions Off Deficits in the Year 2525 (If Man is Still Alive), What's the @#$%!? Budget Gonna Be for 2012?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Berwick’s contention that public health administration should seek “to constrain decentralized, individual decision making” and “to weigh public welfare against the choices of private consumers.”

    Totalitarian collectivism; what could possibly go wrong?

    1. It’ll work this time, because the right people are in charge. Really.

    2. Unfortunately, too many people read those same words and think (to use the term loosely), well what’s wrong with that ? Are you against the public welfare ??

      I notice too the use of “consumer”. Don’t these people typically consider healthcare too important to be spoken of in such crass market oriented terms ?

    3. From the people who brought you bread lines comes healthcare rationing!

  2. Disappointed with the Post‘s liberal bias?

    Next, you’ll be disappointed to learn that there’s gambling at Rick’s.

    1. Sam, I thought I told you never to play…

  3. Really all you need to know is that he embraces Britains NHS and he managed to write himself out of Pelosicare!

    Any legitimate cost cutting or thoughtful healthcare delivery policies the Post lauds are moot after discovering this…Berwick knows how bad it’s going to be!

  4. Rationing is what greedy Americans deserve.

    Anyone would do well to memorize this:

    In your living, you don’t get what you want, always, but always, you get what you deserve.

    1. Heavy, man…

  5. You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you get.

    1. You can’t always get what you want
      You can’t always get what you want
      You can’t always get what you want
      But if you try sometimes you might find
      You get what you need

  6. Maybe all doctors’ offices will be required, under a previously unnoted provision of Obamacare, to have a bust of Stalin in the waiting room.

    1. pre-existing conditions are now covered

    2. That would certainly stimulate the Stalin-bust-building industry.

  7. I saw this article this morning over breakfast. Needless to say, I ruined the mellow of the wife’s morning time.

  8. “a drawn out nomination fight, which likely would have focused on the question of whether Berwick supports government rationing of health care.”

    To be fair, *Congress* has pretty clearly signalled that it wants “rationing of health care.” It repeatedly rejects any method, other than rationing, for the necessary budget-cutting to be done.

    1. Well right, because politicians want it both ways.

      They want to be seen by the voting elderly public as givers of free-to-them, spare-no-expense, life-extending medicine; and yet, they know they need to rein in costs lest their pork barrel discretionary spending money gets squeezed out from every budget going forward.

      Without pork barrel spending, what is the point of politics?

  9. Suggest reading Victor Fuch’s book, Who Shall Live? He points out that we have an unlimited demand for healthcare but our financial resources are limited. Hence rationing occurs – simple economics.

  10. my health care is currently rationed (selected) by my non-government employee. Yet our state mandates pregnancy, and aultism (sic) as required tributes. I’m the youngest, mail, no children, age 52.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.