CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanja Gupta pressed HHS Secretary Kathleen for price controls in all parts of the health care industry on Thursday's Newsroom. Gupta stated that insurance companies were "just the tip of the iceberg" of health care costs: "There are a lot of different organizations, groups, people who contribute to health care costs. Are you going to be going after all these folks?" [audio clip available here]
It looked a bit odd for CNN to choose the correspondent, whom Obama chose to be surgeon general before adviser Tom Daschle was forced to resign, to interview other people who signed up to sell ObamaCare. Gupta's question came during an interview 26 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour, in which both he and CNN anchor Kyra Phillips asked the Obama administration official about the health care summit later in the day at Blair House. Gupta also hinted at the possibility of going after the profits of health care suppliers in his last question to Sebelius (who was sympathetic to Gupta's proposal in her answer):
SANJAY GUPTA: Secretary Sebelius, a lot of people will say, well, look, when you talk about tip of the iceberg, it's not just insurance companies. It may be hospitals. It may be manufacturers of a lot of supplies that are used in hospitals. There are a lot of different organizations, groups, people who contribute to health care costs. Are you going to be going after all these folks? I mean, there are companies that are posting huge profits that make supplies for hospitals. How about that?
HHS SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: Well, I think definitely, part of the underlying health reform is to really pay a more reasonable rate for the products that are delivered, and we want to go to competitive bidding on durable medical equipment- that in and of itself, just making companies bid and not, sort of, fixing a price. We want to insert some market strategies in Medicare programs so that we actually can lower cost over time. There's a lot we're overpaying for. We're subsidizing the so-called Medicare Advantage plan- 12 percent more- and 80 percent of seniors are paying those higher rates for issues that don't really add to health outcomes for seniors. So we want to be smart about what we're spending, but actually lower the cost over time- pay for quality, pay for outcomes, and stop overpaying for everything in the medical system, which is driving up costs. That's all part of the reform bills that passed both the House and the Senate.
Just before he was considered for the surgeon general post, Gupta came out as being against the Bush administration's expansion of health care workers' conscience rights during a segment on the December 19, 2008 edition of CNN's Newsroom.