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Interesting Opinion Piece About Quentin Young's Health Care Vision from The Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)
August 16, 2010

Download the article from The Capital Times

President Obama should heed his doctor’s advice

John Nichols | Capital Times associate editor | Posted: Sunday, August 15, 2010 5:15 am

Dr. Quentin Young, the longtime leader of the national campaignfor real reform of our broken health care system, is a familiarfigure to many Wisconsinites. He has appeared frequently inMadison, often at the side of his fellow activists on behalf of“Medicare for all,” Dr. Eugene Farley and his late wife, Dr. LindaFarley.

Still active at 87, Young is a remarkable figure whosecontributions as medical researcher, clinical professor and policyanalyst led to his selection as president of the American PublicHealth Association and a member of the American College ofPhysicians’ Health and Public Policy Committee.

But Young has also been a working physician, maintaining apractice in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood where he served as thepersonal physician to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., formerChicago Mayor Harold Washington and a young lawyer named BarackObama.

When Young celebrated his 80th birthday in 2003, Obama helpedlead the celebration. That was back when Obama was an outspokenadvocate for real reform along “Medicare for all” lines. Indeed,Obama said back then: “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payeruniversal health care program. I see no reason why the UnitedStates of America, the wealthiest country in the history of theworld, spending 14 percent of its gross national product on healthcare, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. Andthat’s what (activists are) talking about when (they say)‘everybody in, nobody out’: a single-payer health care plan, auniversal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But asall of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first wehave to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate,and we have to take back the House.”

After the scenario Obama sketched came to pass, he compromised,delivering far less than “Medicare for all.” And old friends suchas Young have expressed their concerns.

But what is strange and troubling is that the Obama White Houseis now deriding activists like Young, with press secretary RobertGibbs grumbling: “That’s not reality.”

Well, didn’t Barack Obama once think it was “reality”?

And isn’t Gibbs engaging in a creepy form of demagoguery? That’swhat Young suggests in a letter to the press secretary: “When Ifirst read your interview, my reaction was incredulity. The quotesyou offered reflected the worst tea party disinformation. I andmany others strongly believe these intemperate and mendaciousattacks on progressives dissatisfied with some of theadministration’s incredible concessions to the militant right-wingRepublicans are extremely destructive.”

Young warned that the press secretary’s remarks run the risk of“(driving off) those of us who supported the president’s campaignand have anguished over the fruitless lurches to the right thathave characterized the first half of the president’s firstterm.”

Obama would be wise to consider what his former physician says.Even as they differ, Young remains a far wiser and better friend tothe president than Gibbs.

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital