Hospitals

Apology out of the way, Cleveland Clinic CEO continues with obesity wellness campaign

Dr. Toby Cosgrove, the Cleveland Clinic’s chief executive officer, took to CNBC on Thursday night with a fat-friendly message on obesity and wellness.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Dr. Toby Cosgrove won’t let the backlash and his subsequent apology about obesity keep him from the health-care reform debate. Cosgrove, the Cleveland Clinic’s chief executive officer, took to CNBC on Thursday night with a fat-friendly message on obesity and wellness.

The first half of the discussion focused on the Clinic’s system of employing physicians and institutes. But about four minutes in, Cosgrove was asked, “Doctor, you don’t hire people who smoke, correct?” — a likely segue to a question about obesity.

Cosgrove didn’t wait for the commentator to set the agenda. He tackled obesity and smoking in one answer, and surrounded a sentence about hiring practices with an explanation of programs at the Clinic that help people fight smoking and obesity.

“The two major issues in the United States right now that account for over 10 percent of the health-care costs in the United States are smoking and obesity… and so we went at those things in a very positive way.

“It’s really hard now to find a good Snicker’s bar here at the Cleveland Clinic,” he said later. He then focused on putting wellness incentives into public policy.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if organizations got tax breaks for having wellness programs for their employees? That’s an easy step that the government could do — very positive incentive for employers to do that.

Also, you could change the legislation. You could make people’s insurance more related to their health in a bigger percentage of the ways. There’s all kinds of ways to incent employers to look after their employees.

Similarly, we’ve got to get the incentives right for doctors…

This interview didn’t include the biting commentary on obesity. It also didn’t spend much time on personal responsibility, which had also been an ongoing theme in Cosgrove’s earlier interviews. Instead, the message seems to be that there are ways the government, through financial incentives, can help companies help people fight obesity and smoking.