KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Taps Alabama Doctor To Serve As Surgeon General

The Obama Administration signalled on Monday that Dr. Regina Benjamin is its nominee for the office of Surgeon General. "President Barack Obama turned to the Deep South for the next surgeon general, a rural Alabama family physician who made headlines with fierce determination to rebuild her nonprofit medical clinic in the wake of Hurricane Katrina," the Associated Press reports. "The surgeon general is the people's health advocate, a bully pulpit position that can be tremendously effective with a forceful personality" (Neergaard, 7/13).

Reuters reports that Obama was scheduled to announce Dr. Benjamin's appointment during a Rose Garden ceremony at 11:40 a.m. EDT. "Benjamin won a MacArthur Foundation 'genius' grant in 2008 for her work founding the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic to serve a Gulf Coast fishing community of 2,500 people in 1990. It was devastated twice, by Hurricanes Georges in 1998 and Katrina in 2005, according to a biography by the MacArthur Foundation" (Holland and Fox, 7/13).

New York Times: In 2002, she became the president of the Alabama Medical Association, making her the first African-American woman to be president of a state medical society in the United States  (Harris, 7/13).

The Washington Post: Benjamin also "was associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama's College of Medicine" (Shear, 7/13).

Benjamin graduated from Morehouse's medical school in 1982 and "went on to do her residency at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Keefe, 7/13).

Washington Times: "The surgeon general's post a high-profile appointment that has been left unfilled for months," after Obama's first pick CNN's Sanjay Gupta withdrew from consideration, "even as U.S. public health officials gear up to battle an expected resurgence of swine flu this fall" (Bellantoni, 7/13)

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