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Monday, May 24, 2010
CNS Takes Berwick Out of Context

A May 24 article by Fred Lucas takes the words of Donald Berwick, President Obama’s nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, out of context to claim that -- through uncritically quoting Republican Sen. Pat Roberts -- the Obama administration is "implicitly admitting" that health care reform will lead to rationing of health care.

In fact, Berwick has pointed out that insurance companies also ration health care, and that is the context in which Berwick was speaking.

It's not until the fifth paragraph that Lucas quotes a White House official as saying, "The fact is, rationing is rampant in the system today, as insurers make arbitrary decisions about who can get the care they need. Don Berwick wants to see a system in which those decisions are transparent – and that the people who make them are held accountable."

Lucas also quotes Roberts as saying, "I am opposed to rationing whether it is done by the government or by an insurance company," but no evidence is offered that Roberts has done anything to address health care rationing by insurance companies.

Further, Lucas highlights Berwick's comment 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 less fortunate" without noting that programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are inherently redistributive, or that even right-wing radio host Laura Ingrham has said on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show that Berwick is right: "[O]f course, every safety net, Bill, and you and I are both in favor of there being a safety net where people don't go untreated, where people who need help get help. Obviously to pay for those people, it's obviously going to involve taxes and taxes come from people who make a living and make income. So that part is right."

Finally, Lucas fails to allow anyone in the Obama administration or any Berwick supporter to respond to Roberts' attacks on Berwick so readers would have a fair and balanced examination of Berwick's views.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:22 PM EDT

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