Published on TheHill.com on February 23, 2010
One out of 10 Republican congressmen is a doctor, and two GOP senators — Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Barrasso of Wyoming — also practiced medicine before joining Congress. The Republican Party should send its doctors to the White House for the healthcare summit President Barack Obama is staging right before he tries to ram through his ObamaCare legislation.
Polls show that when it comes to healthcare, the public respects doctors far more than it does politicians or health economists. The House and Senate doctors should say to Obama: “You are the president and we respect your status. But, Mr. President, when it comes to healthcare, we are doctors and we know a lot more than you do.”
Then the legislator-doctors should explain to the president — and the viewing public — how the threat of malpractice litigation forces defensive medicine, unnecessary tests and huge extra spending. They should go on to spell out how thinly stretched doctors are these days and implore the president to augment the supply of doctors before he adds extra patients to the system.
Then the doctors could explain how limited reimbursement rates encourage mass-produced medicine and relate stories to the president of medical rationing gone wrong. They could tell him examples from their own practices of Canadians who have sought their care in the U.S. because of shortcomings in the government-run system north of the border. Finally, they could lay out a plan for increasing the tax deduction for health insurance and allowing individuals the same deduction employers now get as a non-bureaucratic way of covering more patients.
By taking the high ground as medical professionals, the Republicans will score a coup in their dealings with Obama and dash his hopes that the meeting will serve as a springboard for the relaunch of his healthcare legislation.
The doctor caucus in the House is ably led by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and includes:
Roscoe Bartlett (Md.-6)
John Boozman (Ark.-3)
Charles Boustany Jr. (La.-7)
Paul Broun (Ga.-10)
Michael Burgess (Texas-26)
Bill Cassidy (La.-6)
John Fleming (La.-4)
Phil Gingrey (Ga.-11)
Parker Griffith (Ala.-5)
John Linder (Ga.-7)
Ron Paul (Texas-14)
Tom Price (Ga.-6)
Phil Roe (Tenn.-1)
Mike Simpson (Idaho-2)
When it comes to healthcare legislation, these medical professionals, who have been elected to Congress, are by far the more credible spokesmen than the GOP’s legislative leadership. They should represent the party at the healthcare summit.