New CMS Pick No Better Than Berwick, Doctors Say
Don Berwick, M.D. Leaves CMS Dec. 2.
New CMS Pick No Better Than Berwick, Doctors Say

Donald Berwick, M.D., Obama’s recess appointee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has resigned rather than face a Senate confirmation hearing. He would have faced intense questioning about his affection for the British National Health Service (NHS) and its rationing methods.

The American Medical Association, which has not recanted is endorsement of Obama’s signature healthcare reform plan, praised the nomination of Marilyn Tavenner, Berwick’s deputy, as his successor.

Tavenner has expressed strong support for the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and for continuing Berwick’s policies. One of her tasks will be to implement the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which has been likened to the NHS rationing agency. The IPAB is one part of the PPACA that the AMA would like to repeal.

“Scrutiny of Tavenner should be no less intense than of Berwick,” stated Jane M. Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

Tavenner, a former nurse and hospital CEO, worked for Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) for 25 years, eventually becoming president of Outpatient Services Group. HCA allegedly defrauded the Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare systems, paying fines of $840 million in 2000 and another $640 million in 2003.

Tavenner was Virginia’s secretary of Health and Human Services from 2006-2010. She was allegedly complicit in removing important details from a report on two state children’s hospitals that then-Gov. Tim Kaine wanted to close. This information indicated that no other hospital in Virginia could handle the 800 children with serious mental illnesses treated each year at the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents in Staunton, and a smaller facility in Marion. Psychiatric Solutions, Inc. (PSI), a major donor to Kaine’s political action committee, wanted to buy the facilities. PSI had up to 20 times the average number of complaints of abuse, as reported by M. Catharine Evans.

“Tavenner has served the largest for-profit operator of medical facilities in the world, and the gubernatorial administration of a strong Obama supporter and rising star in Democrat Party politics,” states Dr. Orient, “neither of which has a sterling record of integrity.”

“Stable leadership” is what AMA president Peter Carmel, M.D., thinks CMS needs at this point. Those who are unhappy with the trend toward central planning, dominance by mega-corporations, and government intrusion into medicine would favor a change in philosophy at the top, AAPS believes.

AAPS, a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, (http://www.aapsonline.org) was founded in 1943 to defend the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship.

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