Skip to comments.Berwick campaigns for gov in Fitchburg
Posted on 01/07/2014 7:43:34 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
FITCHBURG -- Dr. Don Berwick's gubernatorial campaign swung through Fitchburg to meet with voters asking for support of his candidacy Saturday.
Berwick met with an intimate group of voters from the region, outlining his goals to lead the state through economic development.
After a career as a pediatrican and establishing the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement 25 years ago, he was tapped by President Barack Obama's administration to run the country's Medicaid and Medicare programs in April 2010.
When the New York Times reported his resignation in November 2011, it said Berwick had become a symbol of the Republican party's dislike for Obama's health-care policies.
"Glenn Beck called me the second most dangerous man in America," Berwick said Saturday.
The experience was difficult, but gave him an appreciation for public service, he said.
"It was a remarkable opportunity. I just loved it," Berwick said. "We got so much done."
His campaign is promoting compassion, justice and equity for the state's residents.
"Massachusetts can be an example to the entire nation of a progressive society that is compassionate," Berwick said.
In his meeting with voters, he touched on education issues, health care, affordable housing, transportation and poverty.
Bringing health-care costs under control will free up money for other programs, such as the neglected public transportation system, Berwick said.
"I'm most passionate about equity in society and poverty," he said before stepping into his meeting.
Too many people are living on the edge of poverty, and the issue of homelessness needs to be addressed along with hunger, Berwick said. They can be tackled with public support.
In Fitchburg alone, 27 percent of children live under the poverty level, he said.
"I came from the '60s. We had a war on poverty," Berwick said. "Where did that go?"
The state needs to invest in its community college system to train workers for jobs in demand and needs a stronger teacher-development program, Berwick said.
Terry Myles, of Ashby, said state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, filed a petition for a single payer system for health care.
Berwick said it won't socialize medicine but will bring spiraling costs under control.
Health-care costs in the state budget have risen 59 percent in the past decade.
"That's not sustainable, so we have to change health care," Berwick said.
Savings through a single-payer system would help fund other areas of the budget, such as transportation, he said.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services he ran in Washington had $820 billion in annual expenditures, of which its $8 billion administrative budget was less than 1 percent, but private insurers have complained when told they need to bring their administrative costs to 15 percent, Berwick said.
In other points, Berwick said he favors medical use of marijuana but isn't sold on the idea of legalizing recreational usage; he opposes casinos for the state as a short-term financial gain that would hurt the lottery; and supports in-district charter schools that would share their innovative successes with other schools.
Saturday's tour included stops in Marlboro, Worcester, Fitchburg and Acton.
Brian Marple, of Lunenburg, asked why voters should believe Berwick has a better chance than former Labor Secretary Robert Reich did in 2002.
Berwick said he got into the race much earlier than Reich did when he ran and since then the country has gone through the rise of the tea party and the government shutdown, which gave people a kinder outlook.
"Everybody now knows somebody who's been hurt, and everybody is waking up," he said. "I hope."