This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: We know what the politicians want, but are they being straight with us? And do they really know? We are asking questions. Yesterday, we went to the Cleveland Clinic to ask questions, and tonight, how about the president's former doctor of 20 years? He's a real doctor. He's not a lobbyist. And he's here. Dr. David Scheiner joins us live from children. He was President Obama's doctor for 20 years.
Good evening, Doctor. And Doctor, we're trying to figure out what this health plan is and what's the best thing for the country and get everyone's opinion on it. So what's your thought? Do you like what we know of the president's proposed plan and the Democrats on Capitol Hill?
DR. DAVID SCHEINER, PRESIDENT OBAMA'S FORMER DOCTOR: No, I don't think it's adequate. This isn't what is going to fix the system. You know, just a few comments about our health system, in case people think the system isn't broken. The United States ranks 37th in the world in health statistics. Slovenia is in front of us. We spend twice as much per person as the nearest competitor, yet we rank 37th. We have 50 million people who are uninsured, probably another 10 or 20 million who are underinsured. I don't think this could be considered a system that's working well.
Another thing that has bothered me is this attack on Medicare as government-run medicine. Now, in the 40 years that I've practicing under Medicare, Medicare has never -- I repeat, never -- interfered with my ability to take care of a patient. Private insurance interferes with me almost on a daily basis.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you about the Medicare...
SCHEINER: It's extraordinarily obtrusive.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you about the Medicare. You're, like -- from what I can read, you're a rather unusual doctor. You still make house calls. So it's, like...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... the old-fashioned kind, and I say that with nothing but admiration, old-fashioned kind. Medicare...
SCHEINER: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... I mean, I can't imagine that Medicare would ever interfere because if you're a guy who's going to make house calls, you're a guy who's going to treat anyone, whether he's got Medicare or whether he's got nothing. So Medicare may not interfere with you, but it might interfere with the next guy. That's the problem.
SCHEINER: No, not really. Not really. Medicare doesn't tell us which -- which hospital to go to, doesn't tell us which specialist we can use. It's extraordinarily rare that it ever denies a procedure. Private insurance is doing this all the time. I could -- you know, we can all cite anecdote after anecdote where with private insurance has done terrible things for patients. It's just -- it's horrible sometimes trying to get things accomplished through private health insurance. Medicare has never done it.
VAN SUSTEREN: I understand that you're in favor of the single payer, which is something different than what's being proposed on Capitol Hill and by the president. Is -- and the single-payer is something -- we have sound bites where President Obama said earlier in his career that he was in favor of single-payer. Have you ever discussed it, not as patient, not as doctor-patient, but as just part of outside that privileged conversation? Have you ever discussed this with the president?
SCHEINER: No, I have not. No, I have not.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there -- are you able -- I mean...
SCHEINER: But I have seen those...
VAN SUSTEREN: You've seen those -- the sound. I...
SCHEINER: I've seen those tapes that showed where he favored it.
VAN SUSTEREN: So I take it you're a little disappointed with him, at least somewhat, that he doesn't have that position anymore.
SCHEINER: Yes, I am. The system now -- you know, 30 percent of the costs of health care is for administrative costs which would be because of these private health insurance. If we eliminated the private insurance, had universal Medicare, 30 percent reduction and over. That's about $400 billion, which would cover the uninsured. In my office, 30 percent of our overhead was for handling private insurance, two full-time employees just to handle filing for private insurance.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which is sort of interesting because at the Cleveland Clinic, which is sort of unique and has -- has a different opportunity than other hospitals has, but they have become so efficient, even with record- keeping, that they've been able to eliminate some of the costs that, of course, that the doctors complain about. But it certainly would -- it might be helpful, Doctor, if you could talk to the president and the Democrats because I know that they need all sorts of input, and real doctors, as always, very helpful, I'm sure, instead of lobbyists. Anyway, Doctor, thank you, sir.
SCHEINER: This is one of the -- this is...
VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead.
SCHEINER: Sure. You're welcome. Well, I was going to say this is one of the problems I have. Are there any doctors who are practicing in the trenches who are actually providing information to the White House? Or are they people who are writing about people who provide such care? Now, the surgeon general who was appointed, this is a person who's been in the trenches, but I don't know if the other people who are involved in health planning actually have been out there and seeing what I see.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I think all the people who also protest who also are part of the -- part of the -- because they are real patients, probably have the same -- share the same frustration as -- as we try to (INAUDIBLE) get the people who have the most direct knowledge in trying to solve this. Doctor, thank you, sir.
SCHEINER: You're welcome.
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