Dr. Sanjay Gupta the new Surgeon General?

Per Huffington Post, a possibility that Dr. Sanjay Gupta may be being considered for the post of the Surgeon General in the Obama administration.

At first glance, Indian-American or not, this is not particularly exciting news. Dr.Gupta has a prominent and popular media presence on CNN, but he is hardly path-breaking in his pronouncements. I have heard him discuss subjects like autism, obesity and stress and his opinions are safely within the mainstream, nothing different from a visit to my regular doctor. I have never heard him voice a dissenting point of view to prevailing wisdom and given the astuteness of the President-elect’s recent cabinet picks, I have to confess I found this a little disappointing.(Dr. Gupta’s spat with activist filmmaker Michael Moore is well known. Check out this 17 minute clip from Larry King Live. It betrays a real lack of understanding on Dr. Gupta’s part on the state of health care in the US today.)

But I then looked up what exactly a Surgeon General of the United States is expected to do. At most he is the public face of the policies of the administration, not necessarily a policy creator or driver. He reports to the Assistant Secretary of Health , who in turn is the principal adviser to the Secretary for Health and Human Services( who would be Tom Daschle, once confirmed under the Obama administration.) Previous Surgeon Generals have left their mark by working on important but non-crucial subjects like passive smoking and childhood obesity, not on health care policy.

Should the appointment happen, we would have a highly visible Indian American who would be responsible for being the front man for health initiatives. My expectation is that there will a renewed emphasis on personal responsibility for health care, like eating right, getting off the couch and limiting video games for children. And it will be delivered in the most pleasant manner possible. Hmmm…..I suppose I could live with that.

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