Bill Clinton’s HHS Secretary has a prescription for healthcare: nonpartisanship.
By way of introduction, Suffolk Professor of Law Renee Landers tells the audience at Sargent Hall, “I have a personal connection to Donna Shalala.” She is speaking of the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration and the current president of The Clinton Foundation. The connection, Landers’ service as HHS deputy counsel under Shalala, prompted Landers to invite her old boss to the Law School in April. “Health Law and Policy Forum: A Conversation with Donna Shalala,” was informative yet informal, with personal stories and a few surprises. “I happen not to be a single-payer person,” Shalala said. She spoke positively about U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and said, “I had a great relationship with George Bush.” She shared an anecdote about working cooperatively with McDonald’s to improve nutrition rather than taking an adversarial approach. Lest anyone infer that Shalala has had a change of heart politically, she hastens to point out that for her, healthcare is a nonpartisan issue. “There are so many people who have answers,” she says. “I see complexity. There are no easy answers.” Yet in an email following the forum, Shalala contradicted the notion that she is an anomaly. “Reaching across the aisle is not difficult,” she wrote. “There are plenty of folks on both sides that want to do good.
Photographs by Michael J. Clarke