Fox News commentator and author Dick Morris is blasting President Barack Obama's recess appointment of Dr. Donald M. Berwick to head Medicare and Medicaid, saying it will "open the door" to denying life-saving care to patients.
Republicans have been sharply critical of Berwick, who is expected to play a key role in implementing the administration's healthcare reforms. By appointing Berwick during a congressional recess, Obama avoided the normal Senate confirmation process.
Berwick is controversial in part because he has expressed admiration for the British healthcare system. He also appears to favor some type of rationing of healthcare services.
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"The decision is not whether or not we will ration care," he told a nonprofit healthcare organization last year, "the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly."
Rationing "with our eyes open," Morris says, means making cold-blooded calculations about who receives treatment.
"I've been particularly worried that the medical care reform act that Obama so-called would lead to rationing," Morris tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview. "He kept denying it and saying it wasn't true. Now he's appointed someone who says he advocates rationing 'with our eyes open.'"
Morris says Berwick favors limiting healthcare treatment for seniors, once they reach a certain age.
"There's a ridiculous presumption being made by this administration, which is that you can reduce the healthcare spending in the United States. How absurd that is," Morris says.
"In the next 10 years, the American population will grow by 8 percent, and the population over 65 will grow by 61 percent. So we're going to spend less on medical care when we have an aging population? Come on, give me a break, that's not going to happen!
"We're going to spend more. And what we need to do is make sure we don't have to ration. We're the richest country in the world, why should we ever be in a position of telling someone that to keep them alive for another year or two or three is too expensive? Who ever wants a bureaucrat to make that decision? And yet [Berwick] is committed to doing exactly that."
Morris says the result will be a formula that specifies when patients no longer will qualify for treatment.
"It will literally set up a mathematical formula of what you're permitted to use, and not permitted to use, to get a patient healthy. And that formula will force doctors to withhold lifesaving treatment, not just to prolong their lives by three or four weeks, but by several years, even a decade or more, simply because they're too old, or somehow at fault, they smoke or they're overweight or something like that. You're opening the door to that kind of rationing. And he's going to set in place a system like that."
The way to stop that from happening, Morris says, is "by taking control of Congress, by zero funding the program."
Also, he predicts the administration's tactic of collecting 10 years of revenue to defray the costs of seven years of healthcare reform will prove to be a political blunder.
"But ultimately that's going to backfire because it doesn't take effect until 2014," Morris tells Newsmax. "And that means … killing the healthcare reform bill will be one of the main issues of the 2012 election, and Obama's going to lose on that."
Other highlights of the exclusive Newsmax.TV interview with Morris:
- White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' recent remark conceding that Democrats could lose control of the House is part of an effort to acknowledge the obvious to "insulate Obama from that disaster, and say it really wasn't about him." Pointing to recent Democratic losses in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia, Morris adds: "Whenever they see an election going against them, the first thing they do is try to abandon ship."
- Based on his analysis of recent polls, Morris believes GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, has a "terrific chance" of beating incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in California.
- He predicts that GOP Senate candidate Pat Toomey will defeat Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania. "I think Sestak hurt himself horribly when he refused to come clean for week after week after week about that federal job offer from Bill Clinton to drop out of the campaign," Morris says.
- The financial reform bill making its way through Congress is defective because it doesn't regulate investments in financial derivatives such as credit default swaps. "To call this monstrosity a financial regulation bill is ludicrous. It doesn't regulate the main thing you have to regulate. Instead, it regulates every little consumer loan that any little community bank gives, but not the hundreds of billions of dollars bet on derivatives. It's insane," Morris says.
- He predicts voters will conclude the president is an out-of-touch ideologue if he continues to maintain that the stimulus package is working and the country is on the right track. Polls show people don't believe it, Morris says.
- Morris was highly critical of Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, the former head of the scandal-plagued Columbia/HCA healthcare firm. Scott is vying against Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum for the GOP nomination for governor. Morris says that Scott, through his former company, "fleeced" money from the government. In his TV commercials, Scott assumes full responsibility of what happened at his company. Scott was never charged with a crime, and he said he personally was never investigated by the FBI.
- The administration's law suit against Arizona's immigration law is an effort "to try to fan resentment in the Latino community" in order to increase turnout for Democratic voters in the midterms. But Obama's rhetoric is only narrowing his base, Morris says.
Morris calls the administration's accusation that the Arizona law will lead to racial profiling "ridiculous." he says.
"It's ludicrous to take this as racial profiling, but it's exactly Obama's strategy. He's increasingly becoming the president of 30 percent of America, and disregarding the other 70 percent."
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