Hunting for heroes

John Taylor: November 26, 20070 Comments

It's the time of year when the media and do-gooders try to match those in need with those who have resources. It's also a good time to give atta-boys to those going the extra mile.

HealthLeaders magazine recently published a list of "20 people who make health care better." It's available at Here are a few of their heroes:

  • The 44th president of the U.S. -- who will be elected next year, so this is a placeholder. "We hope the next president will look back at the ruins of those who have tried to use federal health care policy as a reward to friends and a hammer to enemies."

  • T. Boone Pickens -- the wealthy oil man who pledge $100 million to two Texas health systems on the condition that they grow the grubstake by tenfold, or he'll ship his money to Oklahoma State University.

  • U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley -- "a tenacious fighter for the little guy in matters ranging from tax policy to health care."

  • Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber -- two Los Angeles Times reporters who uncovered serious problems in Kaiser's kidney transplant program.

  • "Whoever at Wal-Mart thought of $4 prescriptions."

  • "The reformers in the governor's mansion" -- the risk takers who advocate serious health care reform in states like California and Tennessee, instead of steering their bosses to politically safe waters.

  • Paul Levy -- CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston who writes "It's made an impact on the public debate on transparency," HealthLeaders quotes him as saying.

  • Cindy Ehnes, who runs the nation's only stand-alone agency overseeing HMOs -- the California Department of Managed Health Care. Ehnes, whose stern actions make headlines, says, "We as policy leaders have to be willing to take on third-rail issues because a failure to do so leaves the public unprotected."

A diverse and though-provoking list, to be sure.