Still Paging Dr. Gupta? What's the Holdup?

It has been more than six weeks since ABC News first learned that President Obama was paging CNN journalist Dr. Sanjay Gupta to become the nation's next surgeon general. But what is taking so long for the message to go through, and has the celebrity doctor answered the call?

Despite some concerns about Gupta's qualifications, the reason the surgeon general selection has not been formally announced since Gupta's name leaked on Jan. 6 may have nothing to do with Gupta himself.

One month into the Obama presidency, there are still several high-level positions empty in the new president's administration -- including a spot for the incoming secretary of Health and Human Services. HHS is the umbrella agency that encompasses the office of the surgeon general.

Given the Feb. 3 withdrawal of Tom Daschle, Obama's initial pick for the HHS secretary's post, several medical experts said Obama's team may now be reassessing the balance.

"Whether or not a new HHS secretary would want him or how this works out, I think this is all up in the air," ABC News medical contributor Dr. Timothy Johnson told Thursday.

The White House, too, said it is waiting to fill the top post at HHS before making an announcement. Coupled with efforts to make the vetting process more stringent after the withdrawal of three Cabinet nominees, the Obama team may take its sweet time in bringing Gupta to Washington.

Of course, it's possible that logistical and financial concerns, as well as hiccups in the vetting process, could be playing a part, too.

For starters, Gupta would likely take a pay cut as he moves from television personality and neurosurgeon to federal employee. As CNN's chief medical correspondent, a practicing neurosurgeon and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, and an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine, Gupta likely earns much more than he would as surgeon general.

Meanwhile, the prospect of Gupta taking the job has also proven controversial.

Dr. James Floyd, researcher at consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said several of Gupta's broadcast reports "undermine his credibility," whether reporting on autism or screening tests and prevention.

For instance, Floyd is among those who said Gupta was too soft on Merck's Vioxx drug before it was removed from the market, explaining, "He completely just misinterpreted how the data was reported.

"He seems a lot of times like a spokesperson for the latest and greatest drugs or technology," Floyd said.

Gupta also found himself at the center of a very public flap about getting his facts wrong in critiquing filmmaker Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko," which was about America's health care problems. The filmmaker and the doctor hashed it out on "Larry King Live."

"Whatever you think about the movie or Michael Moore, [Gupta] really just did it wrong," Floyd said.

According to the office's Web site, the surgeon general's mission is to serve "as America's chief health educator by providing Americans the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury."

Meanwhile, Gupta continues to report for CNN, though the media outlet has vowed to ensure he does not cross the line now that he is a potential political nominee.

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