Rahm’s older brother, Zeke, plays key role in health-care reform

By Carol Eisenberg

March 5, 2009 at 10:44am

Enter the third Emanuel.

One of the key players at the White house health-care summit today is the eldest of the three wildly successful Emanuel brothers – Ezekiel Emanuel, better known as Zeke, a bioethicist and physician who recently signed on as special health-care reform adviser to White House budget chief Peter Orszag.

But Zeke Emanuel is no Johnny-come-lately to the issue who got an invite because of his kid brother’s sway at the White House.

Zeke Emanuel
Zeke Emanuel

He is an oncologist and policy expert who was a member of Bill Clinton’s Task Force on Health Care Reform and who is chair of the Department of Bioethics at the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health.

Moreover, in June, he published a book advocating replacing the current health care structure with a voucher system – a notion that his youngest brother dismissed at one point as “wacko.”

For the record: those views did not faze his older brother.

“I’m a very practical guy,” Zeke Emanuel told Bloomberg News. “There are lots of ways you can achieve the same goal … I’m not one of these people who says: ‘You take my whole package or forget it.’ That’s not me at all.”

Emanuel, 51, is the oldest of the three, hard-driving Emanuel siblings. As the first son of a Chicago pediatrician, Emanuel said that it was “inevitable” he’d also become a doctor.

“I was a first-born kid in a Jewish family. Isn’t that good enough?”

(The youngest brother is Ari, a Hollywood agent whose career was the inspiration for the HBO show Entourage, and who has become a prominent Democratic fund-raiser.)

Zeke Emanuel, who has degrees from Amherst, Harvard and Oxford, began his physician’s career as an oncologist, but he said that he often found treating one patient at a time frustrating because he wanted to change the whole system.

Over the years, he became more deeply involved in health-care policy, collaborating on papers and in meetings with economists such as former Congressional Budget Office director Orszag, now director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

It was that relationship, more than the one with his famous sibling, now White House Chief of Staff, that led to his involvement with the administration. When Orszag called, Emanuel said he leapt at the chance to be a playe.

Moreover, since the exit of Tom Daschle, who had been slated to be the president’s point person on health-care reform, Zeke Emanuel has reportedly assumed a more prominent role.

And the fact that he has the ear of his brother – who has the ear of the president – certainly can’t hurt.

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  • #1.   hsr0601 03.05.2009

    War/ Anti-Democracy Do Not Go With Health;

    The overall review of military budget framework based on the antiquated cold war, oil war is going to be imperative along with the review of contracting process, after that, the adjusted funding need to be redirected to the medical costs and peaceful purpose, I think. To be sure, sound mind guarantees healthy life.

  • #2.   James Raider 03.05.2009

    Unfortunately Obama is showing the gap in his understanding of critical elements at the core of what drives America.

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