Thursday, January 08, 2009

Conyers Goes After Obama For Thinking Of Gupta For Surgeon General

While Barack Obama has done many things right since being elected President, one of the odder items has been floating the name of Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General. Sure, people know him from CNN and he is a brain surgeon, but is that really enough to be Surgeon General. Plenty of people think not, including Paul Krugman. Krugman cites his rash behavior with Michael Moore and oh-so-closeness with Big Pharma, both good reasons. Yet his complaints do not even come close to having the pull of someone like John Conyers.

From The Huffington Post:

I join in opposition with respected Noble Peace Prize award wining economist Paul Krugman, who has very serious concerns with having Dr. Gupta be the nation's Surgeon General. [...]

Also, there are highly experienced medical professionals who question whether Dr. Gupta has the necessary experience or even the medical background to be in charge of some 6,000 physicians or more who work in the United States Public Health Service. Gerard M. Farrel, Executive Director of the Commissioned Officers Association, stated in the January 7, 2008 Washington Post that Dr. Gupta will certainly face a "credibility gap" because he never served in the National Health Service Corp, and furthermore, does not have the "experience or qualifications to be the leader of the nation's public health service." Clearly, it is not in the best interests of the nation to have someone like this who lacks the requisite experience needed to oversee the federal agency that provides crucial health care assistance to some of the poorest and most underserved communities in America.
Gupta may be media savvy and as pointed out on The Daily Show last night, perhaps a little too much so. Humor aside, this is a serious position that must be filled and Gupta really doesn't have the experience necessary. He should stick to CNN and all sorts of pithy commentary (he can even keep defending Big Pharma) and leave the administrative work to those that know what they're doing. Perhaps Obama should talk to former Surgeon General Richard Carmona when going back to the drawing board on this one.