This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 31, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Two senators who are also doctors have an Internet show. What do they call it? What else, a senate doctor's show.
The show is all about health care. Earlier, Senator John Barrasso and Tom Coburn when "On the Record."
VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see both of you.
COBURN: Good to see you.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, R - WYO.: You, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: You've had all sorts of titles. You've had doctor, doctor, senator, senator, and now you have an Internet show.
SEN. TOM COBURN, R - OKLA.: Grandfather, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: I won't leave that out. But you have an Internet show.
COBURN: There are only two senators who are also doctors. And with this health care where they're talking about one-sixth of the entire economy of the United States, it is so personal, everybody is involved, and we thought it was a great way to just share ideas with people around the country and let them email in, video in, twitter, Facebook, the whole deal.
And we are hearing from hundreds and hundreds of people, lots of folks are watching, and it's just a way to share information about what we think is best for health care in the country, and it's not necessarily the bills that are being presented right now and debated in Congress.
VAN SUSTEREN: When can we see these Internet shows?
COBURN: We are on every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:00 eastern time, and you can get in on the web, and you can Google it. They are live Tuesday and Thursday at 5:00.
BARRASSO: Is really important to have a physician's perspective. And if the American people will go and talk to their physicians, they are going to get a completely different viewpoint than what you're getting from the politicians.
And it gives us an advantage because we've been on both sides of the fence, and we may be a little more sensitive about this issue for our patients that our colleagues.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is the question you get most often?
BARRASSO: Who is going to pay for it? And, am I going to keep my insurance and my doctor?
VAN SUSTEREN: And your answer is?
COBURN: Unfortunately, the public is being asked to pay for this, and what the president promised and what's being delivered are very different things.
So my concerns with these bill are they are bad for patients, because health care is going to suffer. They're bad for the people that are going to pay for it because it's much more expensive, especially in this economic.
And they are bad for providers. This isn't good for doctors or nurses or nurse practitioners, people who want to work closely with their patients and make decisions.
You're going to have a government bureaucrat between a patient and a doctor, and that's just wrong.
VAN SUSTEREN: If you could change the structure, because we are now deep into the health care structure that we now have, and I realize the new bill is an attempt at reorganization -- if you could do what you wanted, in a practical standpoint, what would you do?
COBURN: Cover everybody. Make sure we got much greater value for the dollars we are spending today. We do not need to spend more on health care. What we need to do is $1 out of every $3 doesn't help anybody get well, doesn't prevent them from getting sick.
We ought to be able to go and capture a large portion of that $1 out of $3 that are wasted today in health care. And if we did that through common sense, by making sure we have a transparent market, making sure we have a choice, but also putting some of your risks on the line so that you can have the coverage you want, deciding the coverage you want, having the doctor you want, but also having a financial connection to those choices.
What this would cause us to do is be good shoppers of health care both in quality and price. We are good on quality, but we are not good on price. And what we need is the consuming patient to start questioning the cost of things. And as they do that, the prices will go down.
The other question we get a lot of are members of the House and Senate going to read the bill before they vote. And the good news is they have delayed the vote until after September, which is the way it ought to be.
VAN SUSTEREN: We are going to give you a pop quiz, you know?
We are going to have a pop quiz, and one doctor has challenged the president. The president says that he wants to go line by line by line through the bill. Would you two go in the White House and go line by line by line?
VAN SUSTEREN: You will go to the White House to sit down with President Obama and go line by line by line, you promise?
VAN SUSTEREN: You promise, both of you?
BARRASSO: We will.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, who better to ask about health care than who people who actual practice it, doctors. Joining us from New York Dr. Earnest Patti, head of emergency medicine at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, and here in Washington, Dr. Mandeep Mehra, head of cardiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and E.R. Dr. Leigh Vinocur.
Dr. Mehra, tell me first, what would you like most of all? What do you need?
DR. MANDEEP MEHRA, HEAD OF CARDIOLOGY, UMD HOSPITAL: We are committed not just to providing health care option for all people, but really the best health care option for all people. So what we really need is not only the expanded coverage but the assurance that quality will be maintained, as well.
And the second thing we need is that the sustainability of that option, vis-a-vis the cost of running that option, should be maintained. Without this, it is not going to happen.
For example, the quality issue is a key issue. We have a spiraling of costs related to technology right now in health care, and if you look at the trends, this so huge that it will decapitate the system in the future.
VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Patti, are you are at all worried about what you hear this health care reform is? Is there anything in particular that strikes you or anything that you need it?
DR. EARNEST PATTI, E.R. CHIEF, ST. BARNABAS HOSPITAL: Yes, good afternoon, and thank you for having me.
First let me say that one thing that scares me is we can't put the burden of this on the backs of the people who could least afford it, and by that, I mean we can't go and cut the Medicare program, because in the area in which I work, which is an urban, inner-city area, we treat a large percentage of people who have no insurance.
And we also treat a huge number of people who are of very little means. And we need the ability to care for these people and to continue to care for them and know that we will get compensated for some of this care.
VAN SUSTEREN: Doctor Vinocur, if you could write this bill, what do you want?
DR. LEIGH VINOCUR, E.R. DOCTOR: Well, I think one of the most important things people need to talk about is emergency care, because when you look at the Massachusetts health care, where they expanded it universally, E.R. visits went up 7 percent every year.
The problem is that there aren't enough primary care doctors. So when you increase the demand, you haven't done anything for the supply. And we need to shore up our E.R.s.
We already know there's a problem with emergency medical systems in this country. They are at their breaking point. So there needs to be something in there and make sure that E.R. is an important part of health care reform.
VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Mehra, is there anything about the whole process, about having a bunch of politicians, and I don't mean no disrespect to the politicians, but they are all sitting up there determining Americans health, but they are also determining how you deliver it.
Would you like a little more input from the doctors. Are they getting enough of it, do you think?
MEHRA: I think the doctors are confused about this. The speed with which this information has been transmitted is so dizzying, personally, to me, that I am not certain that we have had the opportunity to engage in this debate in an adequate fashion.
And that is one of the things that makes me very skeptical about the rush to judgment on these health care reform bills.
VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Patti, let me admit, and maybe others feel the same way I do, but when my mother was living, I used to look at her Medicare forms, and I couldn't understand a single word of them. I used to put them in the drawer and hope for the best.
Is it sort of crazy the paperwork that you doctors do and confusing, because it is on our end?
PATTI: Oh, of course. The volume of paperwork and the items that we have to document and submit is dizzying.
You know, two things that would help us in the process here is if we could reduce the cost of doing business, that would help us in the long run.
And if we could also increase the contribution from the for-profit industries as far as helping us with the medical coverage, I think that will help tremendously in our battle to provide coverage and care for the population in the United States, especially in inner-city areas, in which I work.
We treat a large percentage of people who are illegal immigrants. They are here. They made it here. They can't qualify for medical coverage, and they are not going to be covered at all under any of these plans.
VAN SUSTEREN: I do not mean to pull a scab off of a wound, but let me go to you, Dr. Vinocur, but the president the other night suggested at least pediatricians are pulling tonsils to make a couple extra bucks.
Have you ever done that?
VINOCUR: That's one of the things that's frustrating as a physician. He seemed very uninformed about this whole issue. Pediatricians don't take out kids tonsils. ENT doctor is do. They get a referral once you have exhausted all of your medical options. Nobody rushes to surgery just for the money.
And it is rather, frankly, insulting as a position that he would imply such a thing.
VAN SUSTEREN: How about you, Dr. Mehra? Do you do extra procedures just to make some extra dollars?
MEHRA: Of course not. Why would we?
VAN SUSTEREN: When did you think when you heard that?
MEHRA: I respect the president and I respect what he stands for and what he's doing. But I think we should clearly not malign the physicians as someone, a group that's doing something wrong.
We are really in the business of providing the best care. We do so under the constraints provided to us. Almost on one of us comes into work in the morning thinking how we are going to make money. My goal is to make sure that I provide the best, highest-quality care for the patient who I confront that day. That's all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Otherwise you guys would have gone to law school. Anyway, doctors, all, thank you very much, and I hope the members of Congress will consult more doctors to as they rewrite whatever it is we need for our health care. Thank you, all.
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