While waiting for her turn with the big guy, DuPree goes around introducing herself to aides, practicing her pitch—“First, breast care is not a big moneymaker, which is why there aren’t any other places like this, and yet [physician ownership is] getting a bad rap because of a few bad colleagues!”—and asking if the female aides have had their mammograms. She works the room, batting down objections that boutique shops like hers greedily skim off the most lucrative patients. “We’ve always cared for the indi-gent,” she says. (DuPree estimates that she treats three uninsured patients a month.) A half dozen Casey staffers gather around her. By the time the senator joins them, she’s not just warmed up but breathing fire. “Instead of taking the cream off the top, we’d take the crap too,” she assures him animatedly. “But maybe there’s a better word for crap?’’ he asks, laughing. “Nooo, crap is better,” she answers him.
“If you own a home, you take better care of it—that’s why we need a hybrid model” that allows part ownership by physicians, she says. “I’m willing to listen,” he tells her. “What would you argue?”
“That the first model [of CBCI] didn’t work because I was working with guys who were only in it to make money,” she shoots back. Whereas in her new venture, the profit motive married to—and here she points to herself—“Miss Altruism” just might be the charm. “I would be willing to educate you any way I can,” she says, and as we leave he invites her to come back someday soon and do just that.
In the hall outside his office minutes later, Casey passes her and calls out, “You’re a damn good saleswoman!”
“I’m an even better surgeon,” she calls back.
“And health care adviser,” she adds under her breath.
NOTE: At press time, we learned that DuPree was unable to reach a deal to buy the facility; she’s now evaluating offers from three local hospitals to duplicate her breast care model on their premises.
Melinda Henneberger is editor-in-chief of PoliticsDaily.com. She and her mother, Freida Henneberger, have agreed to walk the runway together in DuPree’s 2009 fund-raiser fashion gala, in which all the models have had breast cancer surgery.
For more information about Beth DuPree, visit thehealingconsciousness.com
Originally published in MORE magazine, May 2009.
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