Massachusetts Candidate for Governor Romanticizes Death Panels

M. Catharine Evans

The guy in love with Britain’s National Health Service, Dr. Donald Berwick, was the guest speaker at a non-profit fundraiser in Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard this past Wednesday.  

Berwick, who is running for governor of Massachusetts, has long ties to this playground of the rich and the radicals. Famous ruling clique personalities also frequent the place including the Clintons, the Obamas, Valerie Jarrett, Charles Ogletree and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

soc_small11 Massachusetts Candidate for Governor Romanticizes Death Panels

The socialist Berwick was definitely in his element at the home of Michael and Audrey Straight. The Straights hosted Berwick and other supporters of the Boston-based Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare.

An online search shows that Michael is the son of the card-carrying communist, KGB spy, former editor of The New Republic and “longtime Chilmark seasonal resident” Michael Whitney Straight who died in 2004. Birds of a feather?

The former Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) administrator talked to a gathering of 60 people including a couple of “tweeting ospreys” according to the MVTimes. His opening remarks focused on patient-centered healthcare.

Dr. Berwick spoke about what that care means in terms of outcomes and cost. But he did not paint an easy picture. “It is going to be not just disruptive but possibly revolutionary in health care but everyone will be better off.” Not only is the patient better off, not only is the work more satisfying, not only do the outcomes improve, costs fall,” Dr. Berwick said. “This country, every country is looking for solutions to this dreadful health care problem….Patient-centered care is less expensive care, not more expensive care.”

What is patient-centered care to a progressive? It’s all about death. Berwick, like his fellow leftists, can’t stop talking about end-of-life treatment in terms of solving this “dreadful health care problem.” In his remarks to the Vineyard crowd Dr. Berwick urged his audience to push back against those who reduced such an important issue to “shallow rhetoric” i.e. “death panels.”   

Sarah Palin’s astute analysis of the Independent Payment Advisory Board in 2009 still has progressives rattled five years later. In his talk, the world-renowned Harvard physician with three degrees and scads of awards admitted DC insiders told him to keep his mouth shut about the issue at the center of his ideal health delivery system.

Dr. Berwick said one issue became a political third rail and that was the discussion over end-of-life issues, that gave rise to criticism of the so-called “death panels,” or independent payment advisory board, later eliminated from the Obama health care plan.

“We know what people want in the late stages of illness,” Dr. Berwick said. “We have the data on how the healthcare system performs in the late stages of illness and it does not perform well. People have procedures that they don’t want and can’t help them and in fact that the staff doesn’t want to give them. Costs soar and people die in hospital beds that want to be at home. We understand what world class hospice care looks like and it exists in communities around this nation and we need to go there as a national policy towards proper, dignified, embracing patient-centered care in approaching the end of life.”

Washington politicians avoided any discussion of end of life issues like the plague. “I was under instructions not to discuss it,” Dr. Berwick said. “Why? Because somebody thought up the term death panels – which is absolute hogwash, there is no such thing. It was invented out of pure whole cloth and our political leaders reacted to that shallow, rhetorical battle by retreating, by backing down.”

Berwick insists he knows what people want at the end of their lives. He has “the data.” That’s progressive-ese for insisting that at some point, for some humans, the data dictates that life is no longer worth living. The caretakers will then just withdraw all measures and let nature take its course. Of course, they will be the same people who believe babies are just disposable globs of cells in a mother’s womb up to the final trimester.

In a Berwickian world, life is not sacred; it’s disposable. And its lengthening or shortening are at the whim of a small group of progressive ideologues.

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