Bill Clinton, MD

During his days in the Oval Office, Bill Clinton would have been an unlikely poster-child for healthy heart habits.

But earlier today, the reformed donut-hound and fast-foodie-in chief trekked up to the airy reaches of Washington Heights to deliver a talk on cardiac health — and to help celebrate the groundbreaking for New York-Presbyterian’s new cardiology palace: the Vivan and Seymour Milstein Family Heart Center. Mr. Clinton, of course, became the hospital’s most famous cardio patient nearly two years ago when he underwent quadruple bypass surgery there. He is now the honorary chair of the steering committee for the new heart center.

Looking trim and, we have to admit, a little bit orange, the former president spoke for roughly ten minutes, during which he “confessed” that he had eaten a bran muffin for breakfast (low-fat, however) and warned against the “explosion of obesity” in this country and New York’s “virtual epidemic of diabetes.” He also took a few minutes to wonk out on health care policy — that famously missed oportunity of his presidency.

“I think it’s important that we realize that the medical professionals who labor here will, unless we change our ways, labor under enormous burdens because of the complexity and cost of the system we have constructed in America, which leaves huge numbers of people without insurance, spends 34 percent of all health care dollars on administrative costs, doesn’t have electronic records, and, as a result of that creates all kinds of financial squeezes for every single serious healthcare provider,” he told the crowd of doctors and donors. “No other country in the world spends 16 percent of its income on health care. Indeed, no one spends more than 11 percent, and yet others get as good or better outcomes as we do, because they don’t finance their system in the crazy way we do. And we have to do something about that.”

Mr. Clinton didn’t get to offer much in the way of solutions during his address, but he did make a point of plugging some of his wife’s work in this area — namely, her Electronic Records Bill. Mrs. Clinton recently introduced it alongside another presidential hopeful, Bill Frist.

— Lizzy Ratner Bill Clinton, MD