One out of 10 Republican congressman is a doctor and two GOP senators -- Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Barraso of Wyoming -- also practiced medicine before joining Congress. The Republican Party should send its doctors to the White House for the health care summit Barack Obama is staging right before he tries to ram through his Obamacare legislation.
Poll show that the public respects doctors when it comes to health care 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 health care, 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 health care legislation.
The doctor caucus in the House is ably led by Congressman Tim Murphy, R-Pa., and includes:
Roscoe Bartlett, Md.-6
John Boozman, Ark.-3
Charles Boustany, 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
Michael Simpson, Idaho-2
These medical professionals, who have been elected to Congress, are by far the more credible spokespeople when it comes to health care legislation than the GOP's legislative leadership. It is they who should represent the party at the health care summit.