[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/28/art.sens.cnn.jpg caption="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.