Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obama Nominates Nonprofit Health Care Provider for Surgeon General: Not all Nonprofit Health Care is Alike

Dr. Regina Benjamin is nominated to serve as U.S. surgeon general. Charles Dharapak/AP
President Obama's Surgeon General nominee, Dr. Regina Benjamin (shown above) is probably much more a representative figure for what tax exempt nonprofit health care should be than are the larger, incredibly wealthy academic medical centers that are usually skewered by the likes of Senator Grassley and others.  According to an NPR report:
President Obama on Monday nominated Alabama family practice physician Regina Benjamin — known for her efforts to rebuild a nonprofit medical clinic destroyed by hurricanes and fire — to serve as the surgeon general. At an appearance before reporters in the Rose Garden, Obama praised Benjamin's dedication to serving impoverished Gulf Coast residents in the fishing community of Bayou La Batre, Ala., saying she opted to open a nonprofit clinic on the Gulf Coast rather than moving to an area where she could make more money.
Dr. Benjamin, a MacArthur Genius Award recipient, is also a member of the board of trustees of the Catholic Health Association, and the American Medical Association Board of Trustees.  The Catholic Health Association website is rightly gushing with pride today about the nomination.  She used her $500,000 McAarthur Genius Award to rebuild the  Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic after it was destroyed by hurricane Katrina.  I wish I was like that.  I would have given money to family and some to my church but you better believe I would have bought me something big and useless.  But then again, normal people don't get McArthur grants.  My real point, one made more eloquently by Professor Colombo, I think, is that "nonprofit health care" is a poor term to describe the universe of tax exempt health organizations.  One thinks of beautiful lakefront hospitals like Northwestern University's architectural masterpiece shown below.  Their garages, at least the spaces reserved for doctors are typically filled with European luxury sedans. 
Northwestern University Former Prentice Womens' Hospital in Chicago, Illinois  
Don't get me wrong.  I am not necessarily for taxing academic medical centers or even rich non-academic medical centers.  I just think we need to make distinctions between different species.  Here is a picture of Dr. Benjamin's rebuilt clinic, where you are more likely to find a patient's bicycle parked out front:
Bayou la batre clinci 


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