As Akron General celebrated its 100-year history, a conservative national radio talk show host spoke about “the fraud of Obamacare” and the need to change health care for the future.
Laura Ingraham, a regular Fox News contributor and author, was the keynote speaker at an invitation-only event to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of Akron General.
During her half-hour talk, Ingraham shared her views — admittedly with a conservative, Republican bent — about the state of the country and U.S. politics.
Her address touched on everything from foreign policy to the Affordable Care Act, the federal health-care reform law commonly called Obamacare.
Ingraham said Democrats should be angry they were misled about health-care reform, which she contends increases prices for many consumers and lacks “meaningful collaboration” with physicians and hospital leaders.
“I would say that Obamacare is the most glaring example of U.S. government overreach that I’ve seen probably in my lifetime,” Ingraham told the crowd of about 200 hospital and community leaders gathered at Akron General Medical Center’s auditorium. “… There are a lot of ways to achieve improvements without doing what we did.”
She pointed to Akron General’s focus on promoting health and wellness initiatives as the type of changes that are needed to truly improve health care nationwide.
Instead, she said, health-care reform “ended up being a massive redistribution of wealth and a huge boon to the Washington bureaucracy.”
During her talk, Ingraham also spoke about the need for elected officials from both parties to fix their “disconnect” from average, American citizens, who are concerned about “flat lining” wages, a growing economic threat from China and the growing attack on American virtues.
“Republicans, Democrats, our culture is crying out for reform,” she said.
Dr. Thomas “Tim” Stover, Akron General Health System’s president and chief executive, said the health system wanted to mark the 100th anniversary of its Founders Day because “history is important.”
Stover said Akron General opted to invite Ingraham as the keynote speaker for the event because she is a highly recognized, “dynamic” person.
Stover, who is adopted, said he admires her advocacy and support for domestic and international adoption. (During the event, Ingraham spoke about her three children that she adopted.)
“It wasn’t anything political,” Stover said.
Ingraham also was sought because of her own experience with health care after being diagnosed eight years ago with breast cancer, he said.
A hospital spokesman declined to release the amount of the speaker’s fee, which was paid for by the Akron General Foundation.
But according to several speakers bureau websites, Ingraham’s fees range from $20,000 to $50,000 per appearance.
The event also featured brief comments from elected officials from both political parties, including Summit County Executive Russ Pry, Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
When asked after the event to respond to some of Ingraham’s comments, Pry, a Democrat, said, “I certainly have my opinions about her and what went on but I don’t want to say or do anything that diminishes Akron General’s 100th birthday.
“It’s an important institution for the community,” he said. “They’re a good employer. They do great things in our community. I don’t want to be tied up in Laura Ingraham. Akron General is a great partner. It’s a big anniversary for them. I’m focused on the positive.”
Brown had another commitment and left before Ingraham spoke, prompting the talk show host to quip: “I did notice that Sherrod Brown left quickly when he knew I was speaking. So much for bipartisanship.”
During the event, Stover recalled how the hospital originally known as Peoples Hospital was founded by a group of doctors who saw a need for more inpatient beds in town to care for their patients.
“Today is a day to celebrate the past with a keen eye toward the future,” he said.
In addition to the invitation-only event, Akron General also gave a carnation to every hospitalized patient on Thursday and provided cake in the lobby for employees.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/CherylPowellABJ.