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John C. Goodman: Healthcare Policy Analyst, Pundit

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, December 2, 2010

"It's not the insurance companies' fault. Government is the main problem."

In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is John C. Goodman's story.

As president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a think tank that searches for private sector alternatives to government programs that are not working, John C. Goodman is in his element when causing a stir. Whether it's being at odds with the White House or Democrats or Republicans in Congress, Goodman takes special delight in taking jabs at health policy makers.

Goodman has been doing that for more than 20 years, and over that time has been involved in the public debate, whether it's over Roth IRAs, health savings accounts, Social Security, or healthcare reform.

The NCPA had its origins in what he says was a ramshackle office building in Dallas with a constantly leaking roof that eroded his files. The first two years he was unable to raise money; he waived his salary and paid expenses out of his own pocket.

Today, Goodman has thrust himself and his organization into the thick of healthcare reform debate, especially through his well-known blog on healthcare. He has written nine books on health policy and tax issues, as well as more than 50 studies; he has testified extensively on Capitol Hill.

"We try to be objective, recognizing the costs and benefits" of reform, he says. "With the White House all you see is the benefits, they never talk about the costs," Goodman says. "I put a discussion on the healthcare blog and was accused of not being objective. I failed their test but I'm more objective than others."

But Goodman says he doesn't fight because he enjoys being in the arena. He says he can offer more in the healthcare reform debate especially with respect to economics, which he says is too often downplayed as politicians move healthcare plans along.

The result, he predicts, will be healthcare reform laws that inevitably will be reshaped or refined or even thrown out as Congress continues to tackle the issue.

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