Surgeon general pick may boost primary care focus

And the nominee for surgeon general is...Regina Benjamin, a primary-care physician who's been part of a center studying healthcare disparities at the National Institutes of Health. She comes with outstanding credentials, including a MacArthur "genius" grant in 2008, and has spent 20 years practicing medicine in rural Alabama.

By naming a primary-care physician as his nominee for U.S. surgeon general, the Obama administration has taken one more step toward demonstrating that it's serious about orienting the health system toward prevention and primary care, observers say. What's more, given her work on health disparities, she's expected to push for addressing inequities in the system that leave some ethnicities at a disadvantage.

Dr. Benjamin, who has mentioned the loss of family members to smoking-related lung cancer, HIV-related illness and diabetes as motivators in her fight to improve primary care, has long been critic of government regulations that make it more difficult for general practitioners to treat uninsured patients or those covered by Medicaid.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this Wall Street Journal item

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