Ac­tion ex­pected on Murthy’s sur­geon gen­eral nom­i­na­tion

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Jes­sica Zig­mond and Har­ris Meyer

Dr. Vivek Murthy may learn more soon about whether he’s on track to be­come the na­tion’s next sur­geon gen­eral.

While a Se­nate panel ap­proved his nom­i­na­tion last week, Se­nate Repub­li­cans sig­naled that Murthy, a Har­var­dand Yale-trained in­ternist and in­ter­na­tional health ac­tivist in his mid-30s, won’t re­ceive unan­i­mous ap­proval in the full Se­nate vote. But new rules likely will en­able Democrats to by­pass any GOP fil­i­buster at­tempt. A date has not been sched­uled for the vote.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sent a let­ter to Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) ex­press­ing “se­ri­ous con­cerns” about Murthy’s nom­i­na­tion and ask­ing that it be held. Paul doesn’t like that Murthy is a co-founder of Doc­tors for Amer­ica, a pro-Oba­macare group.

Paul, a physi­cian and ex­pected 2016 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, said the main goals of Doc­tors for Amer­ica have been pro­mot­ing gun con­trol and the Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act. He crit­i­cized Murthy for call­ing guns a pub­lic health is­sue on par with heart dis­ease. “As a physi­cian, I am deeply con­cerned that he has ad­vo­cated that doc­tors use their po­si­tion of trust to ask pa­tients, in­clud­ing mi­nors, de­tails about gun own­er­ship in the home,” Paul wrote.

Sen. La­mar Alexan­der (R-Tenn.) said in a writ­ten state­ment that “Dr. Murthy is ob­vi­ously tal­ented, but his ex­pe­ri­ence does not mea­sure up to the stature and lead­er­ship ex­pected of our surgeons gen­eral.”

Dur­ing the Se­nate panel hear­ing, Murthy promised he would fo­cus on pub­lic health ed­u­ca­tion, not pol­i­tics. Paul, who serves on the com­mit­tee, did not at­tend the hear­ing.

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