GOP senators gear up to give Medicare chief Berwick a hard time

CMS head Dr. Donald Berwick

Dr. Donald Berwick, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is facing a hot seat in Washington, D.C., tomorrow as he prepares for his first appearance in front of the U.S. Senate since a controversial recess appointment in July.

Republican senators, led by healthcare hawk Charles Grassley of Iowa, are gearing up to grill Berwick on a number of issues, according to the Politico website.

“Dr. Berwick was recess appointed before he had even a nomination hearing before the committee of jurisdiction,” Grassley told the website in prepared remarks. “The public doesn’t have any insight into his thinking on anything. The hearing will offer a chance to shed some light on what CMS is doing to prepare for some of the biggest changes in the history of modern health care. It’s overdue, and it should be the first of many.”

Berwick can expect versions of five basic questions tomorrow, according to Republicans interviewed by Politico:

  1. You’ve professed great admiration for Britain’s National Health Service. How have you helped shape that system and do you see it as model for the U.S. system?

    Berwick, unlike some of his career-bureaucrat predecessors, is a professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health in pediatrics and healthcare policy, respectively. He also co-founded the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. President Barack Obama’s nomination of Berwick as CMS administrator brought about a fervid addendum to the healthcare reform debate, as partisan Republican opposition threatened to derail the appointment. Obama’s use of a recess appointment to skirt the political battle to bypass the deadlock prompted attacks from the right of Berwick’s praise of the United Kingdom’s single-payer, publicly funded National Health Service. The attacks, based on an out-of-context aside, suggested that Berwick would "ration" healthcare. Berwick was given an honorary knighthood in 2005 for his efforts to improve the U.K.’s system.

    “He’ll be asked about what exactly he did for the U.K. government to be knighted,” Mark Hayes, a former health policy adviser for Grassley, told Politico. “For him to have that level of recognition conveyed on him, people will want to know that.”

    “We really want to get Dr. Berwick on the record explaining some of his past controversial statements. We’re going to be armed with a litany of op-eds he’s written and statements he’s made, and we’re going to be asking him about it,” added a Senate aide health policy aide.

  2. CMS actuary Richard Foster says healthcare reform will cut benefits and cost taxpayers. How can you and the Obama administration continue to defend the reforms on economic grounds?

    Foster’s analyses, including his October estimate that some seniors will have “less generous benefit packages” under the new law, will certainly be an arrow in the Republican quiver as they look to challenge the Obama administration’s claims about the new law.

  3. How will $500 million in Medicare Advantage cuts affect the elderly?

    Republicans are likely to use another weapon they found helpful during the mid-term elections: Reduced payments to privately-administered Medicare Advantage plans.

    “Our members will be very curious to know how he plans to cut a half-trillion dollars from Medicare and still maintain benefits,” a Republican Senate aide told the website.

  4. Explain how you plan to implement the Independent Payment Advisory Board, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute and Center for Innovation. Why should these new bureaucracies stand between Americans and their doctors?

    Republicans are already looking to undo some of the bureaucracies created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, introducing legislation in July to shut down the IPAB

    “The Independent Payment Advisory Board is a government command-and-control bureaucracy that will dictate payment decisions and interfere with the best judgment of physicians and families,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said at the time. “The task of repealing this misguided law begins here.”

  5. What is your vision for the U.S. healthcare system: What do you want to accomplish, how will you do it and why should we trust you?

    “Dr. Berwick is a good man who wants to do the right thing, but he has a fundamentally different approach than Republicans,” a healthcare aide told Politico. “The natural tendency will be to vent some of the pent-up questions from the confirmation that never happened. But I think you’ll probably see senators be fairly strategic, try and not let that become the focus. He’s in charge now, so rather than examining ‘Is he qualified,’ it should be a lot of ‘Where are you going, and how will you get there?'”

RSS From Medical Design & Outsourcing

  • Herrmann Ultrasonics, Inc. announces its 25 Year Anniversary
    In 1990, Thomas Herrmann, the son of Walter Herrmann, who founded Herrmann Ultraschalltechnik GmbH in 1961, established Herrmann Ultrasonics Inc. in the Chicago area. Hermann Ultrasonics, Inc. is proud to recognize a milestone year in observance of their 25th anniversary. Herrmann Ultrasonics has been focused on providing ultrasonic welding technology for various markets such as […]
  • Consumer Health Applications receive the most attention today, but the future is elsewhere
    Wearables for health fall into a wide range of technologies, functions, use cases and over-arching regulatory frameworks that developers and prospective entrants have to understand in order to effectively compete. Using an underlying taxonomy for human health, we establish a health-focused wearables taxonomy around three major categories—applications, use cases, and form factors—the three areas critical […]
  • Paralyzed men move legs with new non-invasive spinal cord stimulation
    Five men with complete motor paralysis were able to voluntarily generate step-like movements thanks to a new strategy that non-invasively delivers electrical stimulation to their spinal cords, according to a new study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. The strategy, called transcutaneous stimulation, delivers electrical current to the spinal cord by way […]
  • SCHURTER’s new power entry module offers IP 54 protection with V-Lock cord sets
    SCHURTER is pleased to announce, that its power entry module, series 5707, now offers IP 54 protection with V-Lock cord sets at the power input, in addition to IP 65 protection to the equipment. The sealed module is ideal for use in medical equipment exposed to leaks, drips and spills, as well as equipment subject […]
  • GlobTek presents its latest level VI AC/DC adapter and connverter
    T-43086-WWVV-X.X-Q Model is an addition to GlobTek’s Level VI compliant GT-43086 family and represents GlobTek’s 6 Watt wall plug-in series of AC/DC adapters (power supplies and chargers) with International Interchangeable blades. GlobTek’s changeable input blade system with individual field replaceable input plugs, including: North America and Japan NEMA 1-15P, Australian, UK BS 1363, European CEE […]
  • Sanmina’s familiarity with FDA gets skin treatment product to market fast
    The medical market for cosmetic devices is booming. However, quickly launching new products to meet demand is becoming more challenging because device manufactures face increased regulatory scrutiny. To help meet regulatory requirements, aesthetic and other medical-device OEMs are partnering with electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies that also offer expertise with the FDA filings necessary to […]
  • Fluid connectors and quick disconnects for IVD equipment from CPC
    Colder Products Company (CPC) offers thousands of tubing connectors, quick disconnects and fittings for smart fluid handling in IVD and analytical equipment. Non-spill connectors speed testing throughput by eliminating drips, preventing air inclusion and increasing operator safety. Panel mount connectors can be added to existing equipment or bottle caps to provide secure, leak-free connections. Puncture […]
  • 310 Watt desktop medical power supply meets efficiency level VI requirements
    Power Partners releases a new 310 Watt medical grade desktop power supply from their PEAMD Series of AC and DC adapters. The 310 Watt unit is packed for ideal performance inside a compact case measuring 7.8 x 4 x 2 in. with a weight of only 3 lbs. The PEAMD310 Series is approved to the latest […]
  • Saelig introduces Multiple Instrument System MIS4 universal test system
    Saelig Company has introduced the ABI Electronics’ Multiple Instrument Station MIS4, an all-in-one testing tool that provides all commonly required test instruments in one compact programmable hardware module, mounted in a compact case or installed in a PC-drive bay. Controlled by ABI’s sophisticated SYSTEM 8 Ultimate PC software with a simple yet programmable operator interface, […]
  • AssurX announces document management software update for small to mid-size companies in FDA regulated industries
    AssurX, an enterprise quality management, risk and regulatory compliance solution provider, announces the release of the latest update to their AssurX document management software. The document management solution provides a cost-effective solution for small to medium sized companies faced with streamlined operations and is fully compliant for FDA regulated industries. Ideal solution for small to […]
  • Saelig presents new Amplicon Impact-R 1100F series computer
    Saelig Company announces the Amplicon Impact-R 1100F series, a fanless system powered by the Intel ATOM D2550 processor. Configured with a high performance 2.5 in. MLC Solid State Drive (SSD), the Impact-R 1100F series is a silent controller system. With options for multiple serial communication ports, the Impact-R 1100F can offer up seven DB9 connections […]

Leave a Reply