I’ve never been one that is overly impressed with celebrity. Additionally, I have been known to have something of a less-than-favorable opinion of many of our elected officials. So, as I approached the room where we were about to co-host the Town Hall Meeting with Newt Gingrich at HIMSS 2008, I had a certain reservation about the event.
Certainly former Speaker Gingrich is a prominent figure in our country and having an opportunity to associate Galen’s name with him can only be viewed as positive, but on a personal level, I was reserved in my anticipation. I suppose, if I were to truly gauge by feelings on the matter, my reluctance was based in the concern that Newt was simply there to garner a fee for a speaking engagement and move on to the next gig.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As Mr. Gingrich engaged the audience in a casual, yet pointed discussion about the state of health care in our nation, it became evident that he is passionate about fixing this mess. His “equal opportunity” critique of the political environment surrounding our industry clearly demonstrated an understanding of the issues at their core and, at the same time, conveyed a sense of intolerance for them that confirmed his dedication to finding a solution.
Following the meeting, some of my colleagues at Galen and I had a chance to speak to the Former Speaker. As we talked about the climate of change in our industry and how we at Galen view our role in driving that change, it struck me how inspiring this event had become for me personally. Mr. Gingrich is, by any measure, successful. He could have ridden a wave of high-fee public speaking engagements into the sunset and slipped into semi-retirement with a very comfortable lifestyle. Instead, through his work with the Center for Health Transformation and by leveraging his public image, he has rolled up his sleeves and gone to work in an attempt to fix one of the biggest issues in our great nation.
Reservation turns to inspiration. Imagine my surprise.