Dr. Louis W. Sullivan Discusses Health Museum

By Andy Miller

The Atlanta-based National Health Museum is still in its early stages, but fund raising is expected to ramp up this year, says Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, the organization’s chairman.

The former U.S. health and human services secretary told health journalists gathering in Denver on Thursday that the central goals of the museum are to improve the health literacy of Americans and promote healthy behavior.

As designed, the museum will have a global online network and digital information hub called the Cyber Museum, and a visitor center at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park called the Experience Museum.

The latter is expected to offer a series of self-guided journeys focused on life, health and the human body.

Sullivan is a founder and was a longtime president of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. As a featured speaker at the Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Denver, he discussed his days as HHS secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

Sullivan criticized Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and other governors who have decided not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, calling it “the wrong decision.’’

“I do not agree with these governors,’’  Sullivan told the journalist group. He said the tax dollars he pays in Georgia “are going to expand Medicaid here in Colorado’’ and other states.

Sullivan added that he’s on the board of Grady Health System, which is “always fighting to break even.’’ The safety-net provider would net millions of dollars a year if the state expanded Medicaid, Sullivan said.

Increasing insurance coverage would help close the gap in health disparities that African-Americans and other ethnic groups experience, he added. Many of the ACA’s provisions were at one time supported by Republicans, Sullivan noted.

Deal, backed by fellow Republicans who control the General Assembly, opposes expansion because he says it would ultimately be too expensive for Georgia. And in case official attitudes change in the state, the General Assembly just passed legislation making it harder to carry out Medicaid expansion.

Sullivan, an African-American who was born in Atlanta and grew up in Blakely in southwest Georgia, also talked about racial segregation in the South during his younger years, and how he was driven to attend medical school in Boston.

But he said that white and black physicians came together to support the founding of Morehouse School of Medicine in the 1970s.

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