David Himmelstein – Blending Research & Advocacy

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Our guest this week is David Himmelstein. He is a distinguished professor of public health and health policy in the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, adjunct clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has served as chief of the division of social and community medicine at Cambridge Hospital.

David has authored or co-authored more than 100 journal articles and three books, including widely cited studies of medical bankruptcy and the high administrative costs of the U.S. health care system. His 1984 study of patient dumping led to the enactment of EMTALA, the law that banned that practice. He is also a co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and is a principal author of PNHP articles published in the JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine in conjunction with Dr. Steffie Woolhandler.

We talk about how he got his start in research by looking at patient dumping practices as a trainee, and how he views advocacy as a natural outgrowth of his research findings. We also talk about his work as a leader in advocacy for a national health insurance program and talk about a few common arguments against such policy changes. Lastly, he gives some advice for folks early in their career who would like to follow his model of research blended with advocacy.

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