Ogan Gurel, MD
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and why you have decided to devote a month of your life to this.
Well, I’m trained as a doctor (got my MD from Columbia in New York City) andcompleted surgical internship at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Sincethen I’ve worked in a wide variety of roles including scientific research andinternational medical relief work. I’ve been a CEO of a small, publicly-tradedmedical device company. I’ve been a healthcare consultant to pharmaceuticalfirms, hospitals, healthcare insurance companies and health systems. I’vedone a fair bit of work in the media including writing about healthcare issues,a columnist for various internet newsletters and a host for several internet TVshows. I’ve also been a patient — both insured and uninsured. So, in short,I’ve been, as they say, “around the block” seeing all possible sides of healthcare. The goal in doing this walk, which you’ve noted will take a month, is toemphasize the collective effort we need to move forward real change—changefor everybody. This is about healthcare for all. We have many problems athand: a financial crisis, rising unemployment, collapsing industries. Beyondthe human rights issues involved, healthcare reform is a necessarycomponent to fixing these very significant economic and societal problems.Without healthcare reform, these problems will remain problems. What Imean to say is that healthcare for all is essential for maintaining our economicstrength through healthy workers, facilitating labor mobility and innovation byuntying healthcare insurance from employment status, reducing cost byeliminating wasteful administrative overhead that results from essentiallymonopolistic, for-profit private insurance. Progress in American is not possiblewithout a solution to the healthcare problem.Lastly, the
Walk For Healthcare
is especially important because it is not justa symbol but at each of the many towns and cities we stop by, we will behearing, sharing, and documenting the healthcare stories of real people.What is clearly happening now is that healthcare industry lobbyists andspecial interest groups are pushing the debate. Of course, nearly alllegislators have good intentions at heart, but the pressure by certain self-interested, and, yes, selfish, groups is relentless, focused (by definition),powerful. The voice of the people, the people that really matter, has beenlargely silent. Of course, most polls indicate that the majority of Americanswant some form of universal healthcare and certainly the supermajority wantchange. But in the face of powerful interests, polls can essentially be ignoredand swept away by enough money and influence. Polls are powerful but in theend they are faceless statistics. The
Walk For Healthcare
aims to bring aface, and real stories, to the forefront of this debate: where it belongs.
Why a walk for healthcare?
Basically, healthcare reform is the most important legislative initiative of ourgeneration. Perhaps the greatest challenge since the civil rights era. AsAbraham Lincoln once said, in a time that was full of great challenge andsocial division, “we must think anew and act anew.” Those who will make the final decisions on all this must realize that our lack of healthcare causes great individual hardship and suffering (which this Walk
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