By Andy McKeever On: 07:24PM / Friday October 11, 2013
Don Berwick speaks with voters after taping an appearance on "Common Sense" at PCTV.
Berwick, at the head of the table, talks with residents at Bagels Too on Friday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Dr. Donald Berwick says the state did a great thing by recognizing that health care is a "human right" but the system is broken.
The doctor says he is the one with the remedy.
Berwick, who boasts being responsible for implementing 70 percent of the federal Affordable Care Act on the national level, is running to be the Democratic nominee for governor.
On Friday, he visited with voters at Bagels Too. After recapping his background as a medical doctor to starting his own nonprofit to being a presidential recess appointee as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Berwick told potential supportors that he can lead health care reform — not just health insurance reform.
"We said health care is a human right but we have a health system that is broken," Berwick said. "It isn't designed to have the patient at the center and therefore it is more costly and it lets us down... We need health-care reform, not just health insurance reform."
Health care is very expensive in Massachusetts because of the way the system is designed, he said.
"Hospitals are trained to keep the beds full and specialist are to keep busy," he said, but it doesn't have to be that way. Berwick says redesigning the system to have patient care drive the industry — rather than pay for service — would lower costs overall.
However, that is not going to be easy because of the long-standing procedures the system has operated on and disputes within the Legislature. With his industry background, Berwick say he can "lean on the health care world" and tell them that "it is a new game."
Meanwhile, the state needs to continue improving the infrastructure, transportation and education system, he said, and reducing poverty.
"My interest in improvement is the mainstay. I've worked in large systems and small all over the world trying to make complicated things better — things like health care but also education and transportation," Berwick said. "The same principals will apply to the things this community cares about. I feel I have the skills and the knowledge to do that."
Donald Berwick spoke at the meet and greet and outlined his believes on health care reform.
Those who met him on Friday told him that transportation, environment and high-speed Internet along with health care were of concerns in the Berkshires. But what really took Berwick back was the level of pride he felt from those out here.
"There is a pride in the community here that is really quite moving. It is not that people are proud elsewhere but out here it seems that these communities know they are in this together and there is a sense of we and not just me," he said.
Berwick is one of the lesser-known names in the race for governor next year. He says Democrats Martha Coakley, current attorney general, and Treasurer Steven Grossman have much more notoriety because of their political histories. So he is focused on running a campaign that will get his name out there.
"It's a grass-roots campaign and I need to be all over the state and talk to all of the stakeholders who really care. We try to be in as many communities as we can," Berwick said. "I'm not from inside. I am coming in with experience and knowledge and contacts that come when you work in the greater community — in my case all over the world."
And he says the effort has been going "really, really well" and he has been getting good responses from thos he meets. Friday was his second trip during the campaign to the Berkshires. He filmed a television show with the Berkshire Brigades prior to holding the meet and greet at Bagels Too.
The Democratic field currently consists of Berwick, Grossman, Coakley,Joseph Avellone and Juliette Kayyem. Independent Evan Falchuk and Republican Charles Barker Jr. are also running for the seat. All but Kayyem and Barker have so far visited the Berkshires.
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