Hi Reddit, I am Don Berwick, former Medicare and Medicaid Administrator under President Obama, founder of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement, pediatrician, and executive. Currently, I am the most progressive candidate for Governor or Massachusetts; I am the only candidate fully committed to single payer health care - Medicare for all, the only candidate opposed to casinos in Massachusetts, and I have put forward bold goals to tackle poverty, homelessness and income inequality.

With Washington in gridlock and the public losing faith in the government's ability to solve large problems, this nation needs a beacon to prove that bold, progressive leadership really can make a difference in the lives of our citizens. That's why I'm running for Governor

One side note: I was knighted by the Queen of England for my work supporting health care improvement in the UK.

Now ask me anything!

PROOF: https://twitter.com/berwickforMA/status/500349750609461249/photo/1

Thanks so much -- I'm sorry I couldn't get to every question. I'd love to do this again sometime soon. If you like what you read here, visit www.berwickforgovernor.com!

Comments: 104 • Responses: 16  • Date: 

ningrim12 karma

With regard to healthcare, you once said in an interview, "The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly"

Can you expound on this? What system of dispensing limited health care resources would qualify as an "eyes open" approach, and who/what should be making those decisions?

BerwickforMA21 karma

I abhor rationing, and any intimation that I am for it is hogwash. That quotation (which Republican demagogues took totally out of context) was my comment on the opacity and lack of accountability of health care insurers -- who every day make decisions that affect the access that people have to health care. My point is that those decisions should not be made in secret but in daylight so that we can hold these companies fully responsible for what they do.

Remember, I’m a doctor, and every day of my clinical life I went to the mat to get every single patient all of the care that could possible help them.

fedorco9 karma

Do you think having polls released weekly by the Globe has changed the way people are perceiving the primary? Even with today's jump for you the story has been the same for the past month with coakley up front.

BerwickforMA8 karma

Most people haven’t yet tuned into the primary. I would expect them to do so within the next few weeks, but people aren’t driven by polls -- they are concerned about health care, jobs, better schools, and protecting the environment. On these issues I am distinctly different from my opponents.

werewere10 karma

How are you different?

BerwickforMA11 karma

Substance, experience, and style. My opponents approach problems as politicians. I approach them as a problem solver and an executive.

On substance, I’m the only candidate to support single payer health care -- a powerful tool to stimulate the economy and create jobs. I’m the only candidate against casinos in MA and for the repeal initiative. I’ve got the strongest and most explicit goals. For example: ending hunger, ending chronic homelessness, and reducing substance abuse and suicide by half in 5 years.

I will bring to the Corner Office 30 years of experience as an executive and change agent. Governing is about management, and my record on that is second to none in this race.

werewere8 karma

How do you feel about the recent SuperPac money getting into the democratic primary?

BerwickforMA21 karma

We really do need to keep big money out of politics as much as we can. I saw the influence of lobbying and big money every day in Washington and I don’t like it. Ultimately, in my opinion, the best option would be public financing of campaigns with limited duration and limited total expenditure. And, just for the record, this country has to reverse Citizens United -- the sooner the better.

madmcgill7 karma

There's been a lot in the news this week regarding Governor Jay Nixon. As Governor, how would you have handled the situation in Ferguson?

BerwickforMA7 karma

What a terrible tragedy.

The immediate aftermath was not handled well but Cpt. Ron Johnson’s leadership appears to be improving the situation.

My instincts as Governor would be to respond to a tragedy like this transparently, collaboratively, and quickly.

pcltai7 karma

Many MA voters like your liberal positions, however they are concerned that you do not have the political experience to win against Republicans or the powerful banks, insurance companies and industry. How would you answer them?

BerwickforMA7 karma

This is the time for grassroots organizing and mobilizing the real voice of the people of Massachusetts. Nominating the usual politicians isn’t going to do that.

Political experience doesn’t necessarily equal campaign success. My principal opponents have all lost statewide elections.

You’re right. Some big moneyed interests will line up against the progressive agenda, but we’re in a nation with one vote per person and people know that it’s time for a new direction.

millerjtxbajada7 karma

Dr. Berwick, I have been fascinated for years by the work that your team from IHI has done in the healthcare field. To me there seems to be tremendous potential for crossover into education for improvement. I know there are a few examples of this work, but it is isolated and rare. What policies a governor can be proposed to encourage learning and rapid innovation (using short-cycles and tactics such as PDSA)?

BerwickforMA9 karma

You’re exactly right. Without getting into details, the modern methods of improvement that I learned outside health care and brought into health care for much of my career apply just as well in other sectors, including government services, public education, and more. I think that with proper leadership, government functions that citizens care about can achieve unprecedented levels of performance.

BAM5215 karma

Hi Don,

Massachusetts Democrats have a supermajority in the state legislature and are likely to hold onto it for the foreseeable future. However, many, if not most representatives, do not seem open to establishing a single-payer health system in the state. If elected, how will you convince a party that has a veto-proof majority to back your plan?

BerwickforMA6 karma

Three ways (at least):

  1. Mobilize public sentiment. People are fed up with the complexity and unresponsiveness of the current health insurance system. Heads nod all over this Commonwealth when I talk about the promise of single payer. The only thing more powerful than lobbyists and moneyed interests is a mobilized public. I will need your help.

  2. Make the financial case. Both businesses and citizens at large will benefit from a major reduction in cost without harming a hair on anyone’s head. Single payer health care may be the most powerful job creating strategy in our hands. We need to build a new coalition and that should include business.

  3. Work with my friends. A number of highly respected and capable legislators are on board now. With them, I will do what I’ve always done: create change from within, step by step.

pcltai5 karma

Thanks, Sir Don. ... What is the status of your campaign? Is it doing well?

BerwickforMA10 karma

We have great momentum, we have the largest field operation in the race. We have 2000+ volunteers, something like 370 people canvassed last weekend. We've knocked 52,000 doors and I'm having a blast. Our fundraising has grown at an incredible rate the last 3 months and I'm finding that progressive instincts permeate the state--even among those who wouldn't call themselves progressives.

Baauer205 karma

Two questions:

  1. What was it like being knighted by the Queen?

  2. In the case that you win, do you have any plans on running for president?

BerwickforMA11 karma

  1. Being knighted was very cool--my family was there. The actual ceremony was performed by the British Ambassador to the US. Best uniforms I’ve ever seen...hands down. I got a great medallion on a velvet pillow along with a 25 page manual about the rules of being a knight. I’ve got the Queen’s signature hanging in my study.

  2. No.

fedorco5 karma

What was your favorite class in college?

BerwickforMA22 karma

Bio lab in my first week of college... Because that's where I met my future wife. She was my lab partner.

fedorco4 karma

What was it like living on SNAP for a week?

BerwickforMA10 karma

I’m glad I did it but it was really difficult. I do know it was nothing like the constant stress that families who have no other option face. I could stop after 7 days...they can’t. Living on roughly $1.50 a meal meant that I couldn’t even stop to look at fresh fruits and vegetables. My options were highly processed foods and an invitation to obesity and poor nutrition.

My energy was low all week and I was often hungry.

werewere2 karma

would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

BerwickforMA14 karma

The trick here is to get the duck to eat the horses. It would be an innovation--that's my thing.

mapolifan1 karma

If you could only listen to 3 songs for the rest of your life, what would they be?

BerwickforMA6 karma

It’s hard to pick three songs but my favorite artists are U2, and the great 60’s folk artists. In truth, my favorite piece of music is Brahms’ Violin Concerto.

1neenster1 karma

Sir how do you feel about the militarization of civil police? Is this something you would encourage or discourage?

BerwickforMA8 karma

I support community policing not combat policing.

tyes771 karma

Hello Sir Don. Do you have any midievil weapons or coat of arms after being knighted by the queen?

BerwickforMA5 karma

A true knight never tells.