Durenberger: Republicans on attack vs. health policy change

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In his monthly newsletter from the National Institute on Health Policy, former US Senator David Durenberger, who served as a Republican from Minnesota, writes the following:


Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is mad at Don Berwick for accepting appointment as CMS Administrator without Senate approval. Deprived of his “holds” on Senate action, Grassley is launching media volleys at Berwick. The first is a demand for details of his Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) compensation and a list of potentially conflicted IHI sponsors/contributors. The second, a demand with his Finance Committee successor Orrin Hatch (R-UT), that Berwick “request an appearance in front of the Finance Committee during September or “appear in front of a panel of interested Senators if a hearing is not scheduled.”

Princeton health economist Uwe Reinhardt, whose accented German heritage makes his comments on health policy makers funnier than Stewart and Colbert, turned deadly serious in defending Berwick. “Don Berwick has done more than anyone I know to make the lives of Americans safer and better. The smears against him (by Republican Senators) are obscene.”

Uwe is right. President Obama resubmitted Berwick’s nomination last week. That may mean he, and Berwick, have decided to take these guys on. Recalling how Hillary Clinton took on a Room 207 in the Capitol full of members of the Senate in early 1994, and won hands down, I have been eager for Berwick to do the same asap.

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Paul Scott

October 1, 2010 at 11:26 am

Grassley seems to have done so much for COI without understanding in any way who the bad guys are. I would think the donations to Berwick’s employer would be a snooze — by all means, they should cough them up — especially compared to the millions that are likely to have been earned by Orin Hatch’s son Scott, a lobbyist for Pfizer. Dad, of course, wrote the drug patent law.