Obama's Health Care Summit: The Doctors Are Not In

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 22, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, there are no doctors on call at this health care summit. And the GOP Doctors Caucus -- well, they're sick of it! So far, members of Congress invited to Thursday's bipartisan summit -- Pennsylvania congressman Representative Tim Murphy, the co-chair of the GOP doctors caucus, sent a letter to the White House to complain. Congressman Murphy joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. TIM MURPHY, R - PENN.: Great to be with you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, you wrote a letter February 19th to the president (INAUDIBLE) President of the United States. What did you say in that letter?

MURPHY: We said (INAUDIBLE) you're working on reforming health care. There's 19 doctors in the House of Representatives, but none of them are invited. And it seems to me if you're going to do legal reform, you'd have a lawyer there. If you're going to talk about armed services, I don't know, maybe you'd have a soldier there. Perhaps if we're talking about spending $800 billion of taxpayers' money on health care, you might have a doctor invited. But unfortunately, none of us have been invited.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, this is dated February 19th. Are you aware of the fact that Republican congressman [Phil] Roe, who's a doctor, wrote the president last August about when he wanted to take the president up on the president's offer to go line by line through the health care bill and he hasn't even gotten a letter back from August? So...



VAN SUSTEREN: I wouldn't hold my breath, in other words!

MURPHY: Well, and before then, I had wrote a letter to Rahm Emanuel. I talked to the president's health czar and I mentioned (INAUDIBLE) a number of times. We really want to work on this because there's a massive amount of waste that could be improved in the health care system and save money in the health care system by fixing the health care system, not by insurance issues, not by just having the government pay for it. But we're not touching that yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think, though, you do have, like, Congressman Cantor, Boehner and a couple others who will be going on behalf of the Republican Party from the House of Representatives. Do you assume that they're thinking that they will bring your message?


VAN SUSTEREN: To the -- you're not (INAUDIBLE)

MURPHY: No, because it's very different. Let me explain this, because it comes down to this. When -- for example, in the president's proposal, when he talks about waste, it's accounting methods and it's oversight for fraud, et cetera. That's not what we're talking about. Ninety-five percent of Medicare spending is for chronic illness, and 75 percent of spending overall. Of that money, there's huge disparities in what's done between doctors and hospitals and regions in terms of how they treat illness. And those differences can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient per illness. But only about 4 percent of that variability has to do with the disease severity itself in certain regions. We should be...

VAN SUSTEREN: What's the rest of it?

MURPHY: Well, it's just differences in how doctors treat patients. And so it may end up as more hospital days, different kinds of treatments, et cetera. And so how do we get us focused again on clinical standards and protocols designed by the Academy of Pediatrics and the College of Surgeons so you really are working on what is the best approach? But what Medicare and Medicaid -- and I say those examples because that's what the government pays for. They'll pay for procedures and tests and days in hospitals. But no one pays for coordinating the care for chronic illness to helping to make sure the patient is following through, that they're getting the prescriptions they need, the doctor is getting the data that the need, the information's coming through...

VAN SUSTEREN: It's efficiency, essentially. Are you talking -- I mean (INAUDIBLE)

MURPHY: Clinical -- well, it's efficiency...

VAN SUSTEREN: Clinical efficiency.

MURPHY: But it's also focusing upon using clinical standards, doing the right things for the patients, instead of the wide variability that may exist.

VAN SUSTEREN: If -- if that were done, do you make the assumption that it would reduce cost?

MURPHY: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because forget -- forget the -- I mean, quality is one issue. I mean, obviously, I can see the quality of having someone follow through on your care. But you -- the -- can you put a cost number on that, or...

MURPHY: The New England Institute for Health Care (INAUDIBLE) estimated about $700 billion to $800 billion.

VAN SUSTEREN: Would be saved on that.

MURPHY: Per year, out of a $2.5 trillion system. Now, when we're looking at waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare, oh, about 10 percent or less of the cost. If 95 percent of those costs is chronic illness, shouldn't we focus on managing chronic illness better? But the proposals don't talk about that. As a matter of fact, when they talk about cutting half a trillion dollars out of Medicare, a lot of that comes from Medicare Advantage. And what does Medicare Advantage do? Well, it manages diseases. But that's zeroed out.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Congressman, good luck getting an answer to your letter, but you might want to talk to Congressman Rowe before you start sweating not getting an answer.


MURPHY: Well, we'll keep working on this.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you. A lot of letters go back and forth between these two places, but I don't see any answers! Anyway, nice to see you, sir.

MURPHY: Thank you.

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