August 28th, 2009
01:58 PM ET
9 years ago

GOP Senate doctors on health care road show

The only two medical doctors currently in the Senate, both Republicans, are using the August congressional recess to take their two-month old, twice weekly health care reform Webcast on the road.

The only two medical doctors currently in the Senate, both Republicans, are using the August congressional recess to take their two-month old, twice weekly health care reform Webcast on the road.

(CNN) - The only two medical doctors currently in the Senate, both Republicans, are using the August congressional recess to take their two-month old, twice weekly health care reform Webcast on the road across America's heartland - an itinerary that appears designed to pressure on some of their more moderate Democratic Senate colleagues from Nebraska, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

"I think we may bring a little bit more judgment and credibility to what's really going on in this debate and the problems in health care," Oklahoma Sen. and family practice physician Tom Coburn told CNN.

Along with Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, an orthopedic surgeon, Coburn launched "The Senate Doctors Show" in early July. Twice a week, the two doctors sit down and film a roughly 20-minute segment where they answer questions about health care reform submitted by the public via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and through "man-on-the-street" video interviews of Capitol Hill visitors.

This week, the two men hit the road. Wednesday, Coburn and Barrasso were in Omaha, Nebraska where they visited an intensive care unit and taped an episode of their Webcast with a live audience. Thursday, the two men split the day between a morning town hall in Bentonville, Arkansas and two afternoon events in northern Mississippi - another taping of their production with a live audience and a hospital visit. Friday, the two doctors are set to join fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana and three House Republicans from the state at a town hall meeting in Kenner, Louisiana. Vitter will also join Coburn and Barrasso on a tour of a New Orleans medical facility.

Three of the four states for this week's tour don't appear to be coincidental.

"I don't think it is a surprise that the Coburn and Barrasso health tour has made stops in Nebraska, Arkansas and now Louisiana," says CNN Political Editor Mark Preston. "This is clearly an effort to put pressure on the Democratic senators who represent these three states."

Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are considered potential swing votes on the final version of the health care bill being weighed by Congress.

Coburn pointed out that Mississippi has two Republican senators, but also conceded that politics is playing some role in the choice of the other stops in this week's road show. "We would love for the people of Arkansas and Nebraska to know the details" of the health care reform bills under consideration in Congress, Coburn said.

Pointing to his own health care reform legislation co-sponsored with Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and rejected by Democrats during a committee markup, Coburn rejected the suggestion that Republicans have not offered their own affirmative proposals for reforming the nation's health care system.

Coburn said the reform legislation he co-sponsored would increase coverage and save government at the state and federal levels billions of dollars over the first seven years.

The family practice physician also said he does not support non-profit health insurance cooperatives which are under consideration by a bipartisan group of negotiators in the Senate Finance Committee as an alternative to a public health insurance option favored by many House Democrats. The co-ops are "a disguise of a government-run program," in Coburn's view because "on a regional basis, it's still going to have the same mandates being dictated to us by the federal government."

"There are other ways to solve this problem without the federal government running it," Coburn said, pointing to his own bill with Burr.

Filed under: Arkansas • Health care • Louisiana • Mississippi • Nebraska
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Republicans Suck

    Who cares what Tom Coburn thinks?

    August 28, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Republicanssuckbigtime

    Credibility from two Republican wingnut hacks? I doubt it. The bottom line is that the GOP is going to block anything that will help anyone else. They were forcefully against Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid and they hate the poor, blacks (the Idaho Republican saying he would buy tags to hunt Obama is just precious and my, I do love these Christian values at work).

    Republicans want the health care system to end up where it will end up - the rich will get treatments, the poor and middle class will die. Bottom line.

    August 28, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  3. No Incumbents 2010

    Why are non-practicing former physicians turned corrupt politicians bought and paid for by the drug & insurance lobby considered impartial "experts" on health reform? These C-street hypocritical bozos are a joke and an insult to American democracy.

    August 28, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. AntiRush

    It would have been nice if this article had given some of the particulars of Coburn's legislation so that we could better understand his position.

    August 28, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Barbara Independent in NY

    These "doctors" should be ashamed of themselves. Their medical oath requires that they "do no harm", yet they don't have a problem denying care to millions!

    August 28, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. Peggy - TX

    How long have these two clowns been in the Senate and now they say they have ideas for health care reform, but never before now voiced an opinion or seriously sought change until now in an obvious effort to KILL the desperately needed reform..

    They may have a medical degree and medical experience, but they lack credibility.

    If they were credible, they would dispel the outrageous lies being promulgated by the Republican machine preying on the very old and the most stupid citizens of this country to convince them, using lies, that health care reform would hurt them personally, when it is a good thing that is in their best interest.

    August 28, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. Richard Larson

    Isn't it wonderful that a doctor who swore to spend his life healing the sick and injured, if necessary providing that service at his personal expense, if he was a true believer in that service, could so easily give up that practice to become a politician, an ideologue, who is now spending virtually all his waking hours working like mad to deny the most basic health care to millions of Americans?

    I understand that doctors do grow into adulthood with certain political beliefs, but where I disagree is when a doctor goes beyond the pale and becomes an ideologue. That notion is so antithetical to the true practice of medicine that it is difficult for me to comprehend.

    If the man is truely the Christian he claims to be he should be, instead of being a politician, a missionary to the poor and disadvantaged.

    Both these so called doctors have not only violated the oath they swore as graduating doctors, they have also violated their oath as practicing Christians.

    August 28, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. AOD

    Still no direct information about what they are advocating. Only that they say no to the current bills under consideration. WHAT DO THEY WANT TO SEE IN HEALTH CARE REFORM? No one is going to get everything they want but can't we agree in some overarching principles?

    August 28, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Duck Fallas

    Shame on them. Disgraceful.

    Don't get too close to Vitter if you're going to be treating people.

    August 28, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. Tabeth

    Dear Americans:

    1. Atomic Bomb, yes we can
    2. Attack in Iraq, Yes we can
    3. Civil liberty, Yes we can
    4. Social delinquency in America, Yes we can
    5. Divorce, Yes we can
    6. Arms industry, yes we can
    7. Health Care reform, no we can't

    Very amazing indeed

    August 28, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. rr

    What do doctors know about health care? I'm sure that's what the left is going to say, or they'll just say doctors are greedy.

    August 28, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Scott B in Dc

    The Senate Doctors are as hypocritical as Sen. Inhoffe's comments earlier today. Rather than take questions and discussion from opposing views, these Senators pad their talking points and alleged talkfest with comments and questions that support their views. Obviously, hey do not have the guts to have an honest debate. Too bad we can't sue them for Legislative malpractice!

    Also, the fact they are doctors are irrelevant. The senate has had doctors in the past to the detriment of the way the senate has operated. The most recent example is Bill Frist who failed in his diagnosis of Terry Schivo from the well of the Senate. It seems that Coburn and Barraso are following in that fine tradition!

    August 28, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. Neutralizer

    This is what WE NEED real doctors to talk about HR3200 instead of a fake doctor who attended Townhall Meeting of Obambi and asked him a question, the person actually worked for Obambi campaign last year and not a doctor. God bless and thank you.

    August 28, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Gallimimus

    This does not look like an open and honest show. More like Fox news, one sided propaganda. They admit they are only stopping in Republican states. What's that accomplishing?

    I think we may bring a little bit more judgment and credibility to what's really going on in this debate and the problems in health care," Oklahoma Sen. and family practice physician Tom Coburn told CNN.

    Judgment and credibility from the GOP That's hilarious.

    August 28, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. Chester Drawers

    Best thing they can do to lower health care costs is to lower what they charge patients.

    August 28, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. Non-believer in SD

    I am sorry, but I do not believe they have any credibility on this issue. They may be the only physicians in Congress, but where were they before. Their oath is to do no harm, but they haven't even spoken about healthcare reform before now. Let me see where they get their campaign money before I might take them seriously.

    August 28, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Farrell in Houston

    Doctors, paperwork and insurance just don't work together that's why they hire billing clerks to do all the coding and billing for them. Next time you visit your doctor ask him the cost or code for any medical procedure, he can't tell you. Ask the medical billing clerk, she knows because she's trained in insurance and doctors are trained in medicine.

    August 28, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. Cindy PA

    The doctor’s need to learn only one thing; let all the versions of the health care reform legislation die with Ted Kennedy. Americans don’t want it and will hang this on the Democrats and vote them out of office. Obama, the teleprompter president may see the light as too what the American people want. Stop piling on more DEBT, this is driving our nation into bankruptcy.

    August 28, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. Jeff Brown

    And that is exactly what it is, a road show...

    August 28, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. Pragmatic

    Wasn't it Bill Frist, a GOP doctor, that diagnosed Terri Shivo via video tape? The autopsy showed there was hardly any brain cells left in that poor woman. But he was willing to swear that she was on the road to recovery if we all would be just a little more patient!

    If you want to practice medicine – do so! If you want to play at politics – that's your choice. But meddling in one so you can be the other doesn't work well – for anyone!

    August 28, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. single mom

    Gee, CNN, what's going on with all the GOP stories? I don't mind reading about the GOP, but your slant on them is a bit obvious, especially regarding the Doctor/Senators and Palin. And the sarcasm towards the road trip protesters is totally beneath anyone who calls him/herself a journalist.
    Give us stories that matter – Congressional investigations, and your own efforts to ferret out the truth. Tell us what's happening to our troops in harm's way. Tell us about the multiple health reform bills. Tell us again how the Democrats control Congress but how it's the Republicans' fault the Dems can't pass bills.

    August 28, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Linda

    Maybe witch doctors, but everybody knows as dishonest as they are now that they would sacrifice or sell their own mothers to get what they want.

    August 28, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. mytabloids

    Tom Coburn is a rigid right-wing ideologue, so the idea that he brings more "credibility and judgment" to this debate is utterly laughable.

    He may act like a swaggering "good ole boy," but tonight believe it for a minute. He's bought and paid for. Completely.

    August 28, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Mississippi Mike

    These are what you call credible sources. They understand politics, health care and can speak from the point of view of a doctor. Listen up folks, you might just learn something.

    August 28, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. Debra R

    OK these guys are doctors...lets see how the lefties discredit them

    August 28, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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