Berwick 'hopes' he's put rationing fears to rest

Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) used his five minutes for questioning to interrogate Berwick about quotes that seemed to show his support for the British National Health Service, single-payer healthcare, wealth redistribution and limiting preventive care.

Asked by Camp if he still is “in love” with the British healthcare system, Berwick said he only likes parts of it. 

"There are strengths and weaknesses in every healthcare system in the world," Berwick said. "The American healthcare system needs an American solution. That’s what excited me about the [reform law].”

The hearing, focused on healthcare’s impact on Medicare, at times felt like the confirmation hearing that still awaits him. Republicans have complained they haven’t had a chance to properly question Berwick on his heathcare views since he took over CMS in July. Berwick appeared once before the Senate late last year, and Republicans said afterwards they didn’t have a chance to properly question him.

After the hearing, Berwick told reporters that he hoped his testimony will put an end to rationing questions.

“A lot of the quotes represent misconceptions about what I believe,” Berwick said. “They are selected - small lines from long papers - and I said what I believe.”

However, it’s likely that the questioning hasn’t been put to rest. Berwick was renominated for the administrator job last month, and he’ll have to face a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing in order to hold onto the top spot. Ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has already called Berwick’s renomination a “disappointing decision.”