Dr. Bill Roper – Health Reform Advocate

Dr. Bill Roper, UNC Health Care System CEO and UNC School of Medicine dean, had some interesting things to say to the Raleigh News and Observer this month about health care reform. He also writes an occasional blog on health issues (don’t we all?).

Roper is no liberal – he headed up Medicare and a whole lot else under the first Bush administration and has never been shy about his politics. However, our health crisis is starting to bring political consensus on the need for action and Roper is no exception:

We should create a system of universal health-care coverage. We don’t need to have one plan that covers everybody, but we do need to have everybody covered.

He’s ready to get serious about reducing costs too:

A lot of things done are not necessary, or are not guided by the best of medical evidence. There are administrative wastes in the system. Duplication and inefficiencies are rampant.

Roper was quoted in a later editorial too regarding reform. Why are Roper’s thoughts significant? It’s not just the fact he heads a major public medical system. It’s also not that Roper has made some drastic change in his politics. Rather, it’s that the kinds of solutions and potential changes that Roper is describing are much like the kinds of potential solutions and changes proposed by President Obama, other moderate plans, and even the NC Justice Center’s Health Access Coalition’s health reform plan for North Carolina. This sort of building agreement from many sides of the political spectrum and from many interest groups will be critical if we are to be successful in changing our health system for the better.

The momentum for real health reform is gaining – and comments like Bill Roper’s are one indicator of how far we have come.



  1. Louis

    March 24, 2009 at 6:58 am

    when is Obama’s public insurance plan going to be available? I need affordable medical insurance NOW! before my cancer re-occurs.

  2. Louis

    March 24, 2009 at 7:00 am

    I like James K. Gailbraith’s idea of lowering the age that one can qualify for Medicare to 55. That way I could sign up in August LOL

  3. Adam Searing

    March 24, 2009 at 11:31 am

    20% of people in the US need health insurance right now (and the rest need to pay less in health premiums) – I agree, let’s move as fast as we can. Of course, there is that small matter of getting things through the Congress!

  4. […] praised UNC Health Care CEO Bill Roper lately for speaking openly and honestly about health reform and the […]

  5. bill

    August 14, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Roper might sound as if he supports health care reform but he never talks about his specific goals. He never commits to the key part of the Obama proposal to reform health care. THe public option is the tool to lower costs through competition. Additionally, a public option will ensure that all Americans are covered. Why has Roper NEVER mentioned support for this. The answer is that he remains quietly opposed to the public option and Medicare. He devoted eight years of his life working the Ronald Reagan White House. As many of you know, Reagan (and the AMA) was the the most outspoken critic of Medicare. Was Roper a friend and advocate of Medicare under Reagan? I think not. Now, as the smiling, bow tie wearing, country doctor talks gently about the need for reform, I wonder why once again, he fails to commit himself to the public option. I am growing tired of Roper’s games.

  6. Bill

    August 15, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Dr. Roper sits on the board of two companies. Davita is a network of dialysis centers and Medco is a pharmacy benefits administrator. Additionally, Roper gave $5000 to each company’s political action committee last year (Davita PAC and MedcoPAC). Roper enjoys an equity interest in both. That means he has either stock or stock options in these firms. The firm’s PACs are against a public option. Yet Roper funds them with $10,000 to help fight the public option while feigning support of health care reform. It appears as if Roper is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He seeks to enrich himself by advancing the interests of Wall street firms. At the same time, those Wall street firms seek to stop the public option and subsequently deny health care for working citizens of North Carolina. Roper is not a friend of health care reform despite the soft gentle tone, disarming smile and bow-ties.

  7. Warren

    March 14, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Bill –
    I’m interested in your statement: “He devoted eight years of his life working the Ronald Reagan White House. As many of you know, Reagan (and the AMA) was the the most outspoken critic of Medicare.” Both of these things, even if true, have no real bearing on Dr. Roper’s current stance. You then draw a conclusion about Dr. Roper not being a fried of Medicare because of the “evidence” of the views of Reagan & the AMA. The conclusion simply does not follow.
    If you are going to criticize a brilliant man who has devoted his entire career to public service (he started at the department of public health in Birmingham) on a public forum, it would be good to offer some specific examples of things that he has done which are bad for the health of people. You could evaluate his time at the department of public health in Alabama, his time at the CDC, as the head of Medicare & Medicaid (curious that he was “no friend” of these programs, while being the head of their administration), or anything else in his long track record.
    Also, please explain how owning stock and contributing to non-profits trumps Dr. Roper’s long, distinguished career of seeking the interests of the public in regard to healthcare. If he were really seeking to “enrich himself by advancing the interests of Wall street firms”, then a person with his credentials could do so much more easily than running a huge public health system that cares for thousands of indigent patients every year, while also taking a public stance on a topic which is generally different than his normal political ideology.

  8. Joel Gashagaza

    July 22, 2010 at 6:01 am

    Dr Bill Roper is a hardworking man. What if the wolrd had people like him, it would be a better place to live in where by people would be getting the medical care they deserve.

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