SOURCE: Montgomery Advertiser - A Gannett Company
As a physician, Dr. Louis Sullivan knows that the pending Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” is large, complex and confusing.
But as a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 1989-1993 — one of the key players in the formation of health policy at the national level — he sees its value in helping people receive adequate health care.
“The bill, if implemented the way it should be, will result in more people having access to health insurance, and improve the health status of our citizens,” Sullivan said in a recent phone interview.
Sullivan was in Montgomery last month for the 14th annual HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and HSI (Hispanic Serving Institutions) Health Services Research Conference at Alabama State University. That conference brought together leaders in the fields of minority health care to examine the health status of blacks and Hispanics in America today.
Sullivan concedes that the ACA won’t totally eliminate disparities in health care. Among minorities and the poor, there are significant problems in health behavior and lifestyle that no insurance can affect — lack of exercise and poor food choices among them.
Dr. Louis W. Sullivan knows that life is a long race and the important part is showing up to run it.
In 1989, he founded The Sullivan 5K race/walk, an event that represents an important part of his successful life philosophy while it serves as a major fundraiser for Martha's Vineyard Hospital. An Oak Bluffs summer resident, Dr. Sullivan has lent his name, his presence, and his commitment to the 5K road race for the last 23 years.
An internist who was U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1989 to 1993, Dr. Sullivan has used running as a personal and professional life tool for almost thirty years. "I walk the race every year," he said.
Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., is chairman of the board of the National Health Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, whose goal is to improve the health of Americans by enhancing health literacy and advancing healthy behaviors. He also is chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health Professions. He was the founding dean and first president of Morehouse School of Medicine and is now President Emeritus. He served as chair of the President’s Commission on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from 2002-2009, and was co-chair of the President’s Commission on HIV and AIDS from 2001-2006.
With the exception of his tenure as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 1989 to 1993, Dr. Sullivan was president of Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) for more than two decades. On July 1, 2002, he retired and was appointed president emeritus. He continues to support the school, including its national fund-raising activities.
To the Editor:
Your July 1 editorial about the Obama administration’s leaving in regulatory “purgatory” a host of federal rules to protect the public doesn’t mention an important rule: banning menthol as a flavor in cigarettes.
Menthol is the most deadly tobacco flavoring. The Tobacco Control Act banned use of all flavorings in cigarettes except menthol, which was to be studied by the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.
In March 2011, that committee urged the Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol cigarettes to benefit public health in the United States. More than two years later, the F.D.A. has yet to act.
Because menthol reduces the harshness of smoking, menthol cigarettes are a potent starter product. Half of 12- to 17-year-old smokers and 80 percent of African-American smokers use menthol cigarettes.
More than 90 percent of adult smokers are hooked as teenagers. Menthol flavorings not only lure children to start smoking, but they also make it harder for menthol smokers to quit.
The White House should free the F.D.A. to ban menthol flavoring in cigarettes to protect the health and save the lives of Americans, especially minority Americans. The European health ministers agreed last month to ban menthol cigarettes to curb youth smoking.
JOSEPH A. CALIFANO Jr.
LOUIS W. SULLIVAN
New York, July 2, 2013