Michael Joyce is a multimedia producer with HealthNewsReview.org. He tweets as @mlmjoyce.
One week after the inauguration of President Donald Trump I sat down with one of the most knowledgeable politicians regarding health care to serve in the US Senate over the past half century.
Dave Durenberger served as a Republican senator for Minnesota from 1978 to 1995. He was frequently labeled as either a “moderate” or “progressive” and is the only Republican senator from Minnesota to serve three terms. He was a chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence as well as the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee. He’s also a former chair of the National Institute on Health Policy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
But through the years — much like his contemporary Senator Ted Kennedy — Durenberger became best known for his intrepid commitment to healthcare reform. Like Kennedy, he also has endured his share of scandal. He pleaded guilty in 1995 to misuse of public funds and asked for (and got) the unanimous censure of his colleagues.
Now, at age 82, Durenberger continues to be sought out for his counsel on healthcare reform. I suspect it’s not just his wisdom people are after, but also his candor and passion, which are in full display in this video interview recorded in his living room in St. Paul on January 26, 2017.
Of note, at three points in the video, you’ll hear Senator Durenberger refer to “Gary.” He’s referring to our publisher, Gary Schwitzer, who has known Durenberger for about 15 years. HealthNewsReview.org will be 11 years old this spring, and the Senator has been a follower of our progress since we began. He and Gary have exchanged ideas regularly about health policy issues and about journalism.
In this excerpt from the full interview, Durenberger touches on the unique challenges the media face when tackling healthcare reform.