Dr. Quentin Young: Marcia Angell or David Satcher for HHS secretary

Today, Dr. Quentin Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, called on President Barack Obama to nominate Dr. Marcia Angell or Dr. David Satcher to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Angell is a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School and former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. Satcher is a former U.S. surgeon general and is director of Morehouse School of Medicine’s Center of Excellence on Health Disparities.

Young said, “In the wake of former Sen. Tom Daschle’s downfall, it has become perfectly clear that the new HHS secretary must be free of compromising financial links to corporate medicine. In this regard, either Dr. Marcia Angell or Dr. David Satcher would be superb candidates who pass this test.

“Either one of these distinguished physicians would make an excellent nominee for the position of HHS secretary,” Young continued, noting their many outstanding achievements in medicine and health policy. “Perhaps most important is their belief that health care is a human right, not a commodity for sale. We need precisely that kind of vision at the helm of HHS to help bring about the fundamental health reform our nation so desperately needs.”

“Both Dr. Angell and Dr. Satcher are thoroughly committed to protecting the public interest,” Young said. “Further, they are untainted by the blandishments of the private insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Our nation would be well served by having either of these remarkable physicians in this critical role.”

Young said messages of support for Angell or Satcher could be sent to President Obama by calling the White House comment line (202-456-1111) or the general switchboard there (202-456-1414). Messages can also be faxed to the White House (202-456-2461), e-mailed (visit whitehouse.gov/contact), or sent via U.S. mail (The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500).

Marcia Angell, M.D.

(Courtesy the National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health)

In 1999, Dr. Marcia Angell became the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, the premier journal of medical science in the United States. She is also committed to broadening the public’s understanding of science, and has written for a general audience on the relationships between medicine, ethics, and the law.

After completing her undergraduate studies in chemistry and mathematics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., Marcia Angell spent the next year as a Fulbright Scholar studying microbiology in Frankfurt, Germany. She received her M.D. degree from Boston University School of Medicine in 1967 and completed residencies in both internal medicine and anatomic pathology.

Currently serving as a senior lecturer in the department of social medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Angell has devoted her life to researching, writing and speaking on topics incorporating medical ethics, health policy, the nature of medical evidence, the interface of medicine and the law, and end-of-life care. “My most fundamental belief,” wrote Dr. Angell in the preface to her 1996 book on the breast implant controversy in the United States, “is that one should follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

A board-certified pathologist, Angell joined the editorial staff of the New England Journal of Medicine in 1979. A decade later she was named executive editor and, in 1999, she became the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the prestigious journal. “I was fortunate enough to have a ready-made outlet for my thoughts,” Dr. Angell said of her tenure there. In addition to her academic writing, Dr. Angell has written for The New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, The Washington Post, and other national publications.

Dr. Angell is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American College of Physicians. In 1997 Time Magazine named her one of the twenty-five most influential Americans.

David Satcher, M.D.

(Excerpt courtesy the Satcher Health Leadership Institute)

Dr. David Satcher established The Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine in 2006 as a natural extension of his experience in improving public health policy for all Americans and his commitment to eliminating health disparities for minorities, poor people and other disadvantaged groups.

As a champion of improved health care quality and expanded health care access for minorities, Dr. Satcher found himself drawn to the Atlanta University Center (AUC), the largest association of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the world, for his next challenge. In an environment with a rich history of nurturing minority leaders who engineered the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Satcher finds both the inspiration and resources to carry out his ambitious mission.

Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998 as the 16th surgeon general of the United States, Dr. Satcher served simultaneously in the positions of surgeon general and assistant secretary of health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As such, he held the rare rank of full admiral in the U.S. Public Health Corps, to reflect his dual offices.

During his service as surgeon general, Dr. Satcher tackled issues that had not previously been addressed at the national level, including mental health, sexual health, and obesity, as well as the disparities that exist in health and health care access and quality for minorities.

His initial report on mental health, the first Surgeon General’s Report on this important health topic, asserts that mental illness is a critical public health problem that must be addressed by the nation. The reports he issued as surgeon general have triggered nationwide efforts of prevention, heightened awareness of important public health issues, and generated major public health initiatives.

He also served as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1993-1998).

In addition to his governmental and academic credentials, Dr. Satcher served as a fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation and as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar and Macy Faculty Fellow. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American College of Physicians, and the American Psychiatric Association.


  1. Jean Drumm on February 8, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    What about Denis Kucinich? He has done a lot of research in the area of health care programs? Has he been among other names being considered? However, I think the two suggestions already made are very good ones.

    Sincerely, Jean Drumm

  2. Vashti Winterburg on February 9, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Dr. Young – FYI, as a resident of Kansas, I have personally heard Govenor Kathleen Sebelius say that ‘yes, single payer, universal health care would be the best way to go, but that at the present there was a lack of political will for such a program.’ This was about 3 years ago. Since then the Kansas legislature commissioned a study of health care that showed that by far a single payer universal health care system would be the best and save Kansans almost $1billion a year in taxes, but this proposal was never even presented to the legislature as a possibility. (Incidentally a recent survey showed that over 60% of Kansans are ready for single payer, universal health care.) The bottom line is that Sebelius is more than familiar with single payer and is probably in favor of such a program, but is not a proponent at this point. Could she become a proponent? Maybe. She has been a very good governor. I do not see her getting out in front on this issue if she became Sec. of HHS unless given the green light by the administration. As we both know, Obama and Baucus seem to be on the same wavelength, i.e., keep the insurance companies and big pharma in the game.
    I would like to see the H.R. 676 crowd selling single payer as a solution to saving Medicare and Medicaid. Essentially doing away with both in favor of a pay as you go system that includes everyone. Vashti Winterburg

  3. steve hiltz on February 10, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    In short so long as Obama and Baucus are going to keep the insurance companies and big pharma in the game. HR676 is a dead issue despite all the progress made over the last couple years. There is not the political will, there is just too much money coming to the lawmakers from these sources. HR676 backers need to play the same game but with more money and might to stand a chance.
    I’m going down with the ship!

  4. Neal Aronson, M.D. on February 17, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Read and spread my blog,”Indelible Universal Health Plan”. I can help you make it a reality.

  5. Neal Aronson, M.D. on February 17, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I would nominate Dr. Ben Carson. He is dedicated, honest, fearless and universally respected.

  6. ardythe jones on March 7, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    As long as the insurance industry is kept in place, there is no way to bring medical costs in line. Don’t waste our time. Take the aggresssive approach and discontinue the profit making insurance industry from our medical system. Medicare for all or something like it.