Healthy News

5-Star Friday salute to Uwe Reinhardt – a vital health policy voice lost

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Gary Schwitzer is founder and publisher of HealthNewsReview.org. He interviewed Uwe Reinhardt, heard him talk many times, and admired him deeply.

When you see an outpouring of loving obituaries, as we saw this week after the death of Princeton health care economist Uwe Reinhardt, you know we have lost someone special.

A German by birth, Reinhardt consistently forced Americans to look in the mirror and answer his questions, “What kind of people do you want to be when it comes to health care?  What kind of country do you want to live in?”

For journalists, he was a quote goldmine, offering gems such as:

The issue of universal coverage is not a matter of economics.  It is a matter of soul.

It’s a sad thing, but when I go to international conferences, there’s no question the U.S. health system is the bogeyman everywhere.

I once actually addressed the National Governors Association. There were all these very pious-looking governors in front of me and I gave a talk about how the devil seduced America’s soul, and I described how the devil systematically built our health insurance system that has the feature that when you’re down on your luck, you’re unemployed, you lose your insurance. And I said only the devil could ever have invented such a system. Humans of goodwill would never do this. So this has to be the devil’s work, and I still believe that.

I once asked a senator, “If Jesus came to your office and asked, ‘How do you explain that you make health care cheaper for a rich man than a poor man?’ What would you tell Jesus?” This was a nice born-again Christian. “What would you tell Jesus?” And he was speechless.”

You can learn more about his life, his work, and what people thought about him, in some of these terrific obituaries and remembrances.

Uwe Reinhardt: Giant, mensch, knife twister | The Incidental Economist (Don’t miss the comments following this piece)

We’ve lost one of the clearest voices on health care, Uwe Reinhardt | PBS News Hour

Remembering Uwe Reinhardt: prolific health policy expert and gracious mentor | STAT

Uwe Reinhardt, economist who diagnosed U.S. health-care ills, dies at 80 I Washington Post

Listen to remembrances on NPR Fresh Air:

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Evan Jack