Ben­jamin to step down as U.S. sur­geon gen­eral

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion lost an­other one of its top health­care of­fi­cials last week just as HHS pre­pares to kick im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 2010 health­care re­form law into high gear. A lit­tle more than a week af­ter it was re­vealed that Dr. Rick Gil­fil­lan will leave his job this month as di­rec­tor of the CMS In­no­va­tion Cen­ter, an HHS spokes­woman con­firmed that U.S. Sur­geon Gen­eral Dr. Regina Ben­jamin will step down from her post next month. Ben­jamin, who was ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in July 2009, was not avail­able for an in­ter­view. “The sur­geon gen­eral has in­di­cated that she’s go­ing to spend some time this sum­mer vol­un­teer­ing at her clinic in Alabama, al­low­ing her to get back in touch with her pa­tients that she has greatly missed,” HHS spokes­woman Dori Sal­cido said in an e-mail. Ben­jamin opened the Bayou Le Ba­tre Ru­ral Health Clinic in the 1980s. Deputy Sur­geon Gen­eral Dr. Boris Lush­niak, 53, will serve as act­ing sur­geon gen­eral af­ter Ben­jamin, 56, leaves July 16 and a search be­gins for her suc­ces­sor. Jef­frey Levi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at the Trust for Amer­ica’s Health, has worked with Ben­jamin on the National Preven­tion Coun­cil, a panel es­tab­lished by the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act. Levi said Ben­jamin has framed pol­icy so­lu­tions at a pop­u­la­tion level and man­aged to ad­dress those so­lu­tions through the prism of her pa­tient pop­u­la­tion in Alabama. “She’s an in­cred­i­bly com­mit­ted clin­i­cian who has taken that clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and drawn from it a recog­ni­tion that if we don’t think about what hap­pens out­side the clinic, we will never be able to ad­dress some of the most press­ing needs in­side the clinic, es­pe­cially racial and eth­nic mi­nori­ties and those who are un­der­served,” Levi said.

— Jessica Zig­mond

Ben­jamin’s last day is July 16.

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