“It’s not fake news,” Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon, said of CNN after speaking at a Ballad Health leadership forum held at the MeadowView Marriott. “It’s interesting. … You do hear that a lot and I think if you go out there and actually look at the surveys about what people trust what they are looking for, places like CNN — not just CNN but places like CNN — actually do OK. I think there is a lot of division obviously in the country. … I’m a science-based journalist so I’m actually relying on data and facts and the truth. The reality is for most journalists … putting a couple of minutes on the air is a really important laboriously heavy process and even choosing between (the words) ‘may,’ ‘could’ and ‘would’ as modifiers in language are things we think about. Every ‘I’ is dotted, every ‘T’ is crossed. We’ve got to make sure there is a place where people can go to where they are going to be informed. There is a lot of fake news out there, and we’re seeing more than ever how detrimental it can be overall to our society.”
Gupta also fielded these questions:
What do you see in the opioid crisis?
“We’ve been reporting on this for 10 years now. I think people are still waking up and saying, ‘This opioid problem is that bad.’ … I think when you look at places like Ballad (Health), they’ve been able to reduce opioids by 40 percent. That’s a huge number.”
Ballad Health President and CEO Alan Levine, standing next to Gupta, said Ballad’s opioid strategy was heard this week by the U.S. Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee.
“Some of the things we are doing to combat the opioid epidemic … already Ballad Health is making a difference nationally,” Levine stressed.
What do you see in diabetes care?
“They expect that within the next several years, half the country is going to be prediabetic or diabetic.”
Can the merger that created Ballad Health work?
“I think they can. There are headwinds no matter where you look now whether it’s Medicare reimbursements going down or pharmaceutical reimbursements going down. Obviously population growth is going to be a question. How’s the population going to change and grow in an area like this? I think there are a couple things we have known to be true. One is medical systems don’t abide by the same free market principles that many other parts of our society do. You have health care systems that are bitterly competing with each other … that probably weren’t optimizing themselves and doing the best care for the patients. … I think being able to create that efficiency will work. … Health care is challenging wherever you go, but these sorts of changes are probably going to be long lasting and hopefully serve as an example to the rest of the country.”
What do you think of medical marijuana?
“I have been reporting on medical marijuana for some time now. … I started to really recognize a few things. … Medicinal marijuana can have some benefit. In some cases, it might be the only thing that can have benefit.”