When a group of about 200 doctors gathered in D.C. on Thursday, October 1, to demonstrate against the public option and in favor of tort reform and free market-based solutions, FNC’s Hannity show highlighted the group’s activities, as host Sean Hannity introduced a story by correspondent Ainsley Earhardt on how "doctors from around the country converged on Washington, D.C. today to protest the President's plan to overhaul health care." David Asman and Liz Claman of Fox Business Network even interviewed one participant in the rally – known as the Million Med March – on the same day. On FBN, Dr. Todd Rubin conveyed his fears that a public option would lead to a single-payer system. Rubin: "Eventually, if the bills that are currently presented pass as is written, what will we be left with will be a single-payer-dominated health insurer, and that will be the federal government." Video of the interview can be found here.
When the White House staged a photo-op on Monday with 150 doctors who support ObamaCare, ABC’s World News anchor Charles Gibson touted the event later that day. Gibson: "The doctors were in the house – 150 of them in the White House today, all in white lab coats. It was a show of support for President Obama’s efforts at health care reform."
And NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams got to the story on Tuesday as he defended President Obama from charges that it was the White House that supplied lab coats for the doctors to wear for the photo-op. Williams: "Today's New York Post took issue with a photo from yesterday of a White House staffer passing out lab coats. The White House was accused of staging the photo op. Turns out the doctors group provided the extra lab coats for anyone who forgot to bring one along."
Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the Tuesday, October 6, NBC Nightly News, the Monday, October 5, World News with Charles Gibson on ABC, the Thursday, October 1, Hannity show on FNC, and the October 1 interview with Dr. Rubin from Fox Business Network:
#From the October 6 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: You might have seen the picture yesterday, President Obama at the White House surrounded by a sea of doctors in their lab coats, rallying support for health care reform. But then some folks figured, would doctors really all show up wearing lab coats at a public event with the President? Really? But then today's New York Post took issue with a photo from yesterday of a White House staffer passing out lab coats. The White House was accused of staging the photo op. Turns out the doctors group provided the extra lab coats for anyone who forgot to bring one along.
#From the October 5 World News:
CHARLES GIBSON: The doctors were in the house – 150 of them in the White House today, all in white lab coats. It was a show of support for President Obama’s efforts at health care reform. A vote on one version of the health care bill is expected later this week in the key Senate Finance Committee after the Congressional Budget Office makes a cost estimate on that form of the bill.
#From the Thursday, October 1, Hannity show on FNC:
SEAN HANNITY: All right, doctors from around the country converged on Washington, D.C. today to protest the President's plan to overhaul health care. Our very own Ainsley Earhardt, she was there to witness all of this, and she now joins us with a live report. Ainsley?
AINSLEY EARHARDT: Sean, we've seen more protests and tea parties in Washington. But today we saw a sea of white coats here in the capital. Doctors picketing for what they have named the Million Med March. Hundreds of physicians gathering here in D.C. to represent the roughly one million physicians all across America. Their mission: to express their prognosis for Obama's health care reform and issue a call, as we heard today, for government to, quote, "get out of their operating rooms." These docs took the day off, driving and flying in from all over the country to protest. They say it's a grass roots movement aimed at protecting the relationship between the doctor and the patient.
DR. RICHARD ARMSTRONG, GENERAL SURGEON: The President and the Congress need to talk to doctors in America that actually work, that work in the business of medicine, the physicians in the emergency rooms, the physicians in operating rooms, the people who are delivering babies, those of us who are on call late at night and come in at 2 a.m. in the morning to take care of patients. I think that we just haven't had the appropriate amount of input, and that's why I came today.
EARHARDT: Well, the good news is they do have an input. Currently, there are 16 doctors serving in Congress. Two of them were there at the march today with us. And they say their experience in medicine and in politics could help find a cure to this health care debate.
#From the Thursday, October 1, Fox Business Network:
DAVID ASMAN: The white coats are coming.
LIZ CLAMAN: Physicians from all over the country taking part in something called the Million Med March in Washington. They are calling for a plan that focuses on tort reform and the patient-doctor relationship.
ASMAN: Dr. Todd Rubin is an anesthesiologist who took part in today’s demonstration. He joins us now to talk about it. Doctor, great to see you. Thanks for being here. A lot of us folks are confused as to what doctors really want in this situation, whether they want the public option, whether they don’t. Obviously, they’re displeased that there hasn’t been as much in tort reform as they would like, but NPR, National Public Radio, seems to be in favor of these, of the public option, came out with this survey that was done by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine saying that overwhelmingly doctors favor the public option. Is that true?
DOCTOR TODD RUBIN, MILLION MED MARCH: There could be nothing further from the truth, David. The fact of the matter is that study that they quoted, they didn’t ask the right questions. The right question was: How many doctors out there, practicing physicians, would favor a single-payer plan? Because eventually, if the bills that are currently presented pass as is written, what will we be left with will be a single-payer-dominated health insurer, and that will be the federal government. And 90 percent – if you read between the lines – 90 percent of physicians are adamantly opposed to that.
CLAMAN: Okay, what would they like instead, Doctor?
RUBIN: Well, I mean, what we like is, we want to maintain, you know, we’re here in Washington because we see an unfair attack on the medical profession, one, and an indictment on the entire American health care system. This is still a great system. Yes, there’s problems. Yes, there are things that we could do to fix it. But it’s still a great health care system, and we see a direct threat to the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship, and that’s why we’re here. Nobody embraces health care reform that’s long overdue more than practicing doctors.
ASMAN: It is a great health care system. Anybody like me who’s spent time in others know – even compared to those that are touted in England and elsewhere – this is the best. But, you know, the problems are manifold, and one that just came to me, a neurosurgeon who’s going to be on Scoreboard tonight, says he makes six times as much money sitting in a courtroom as an expert witness in a malpractice suit than he does just practicing medicine. That shows how things have become distorted, doesn’t it?
RUBIN: That’s absolutely true. I mean, what we propose are patient-centered reforms, a system that still allows patients, their families and their doctor to make independent health care decisions. And the problems with the current proposals – whether it’s HR 3200 in the House or the Baucus bill on the Senate side – will enable the government to be the referee and the player in health care reform. And we think independent decision-making is uniquely American, and the American citizenry and patients know ultimately what’s best for them and their families.
CLAMAN: But, Doctor ... I was going to say that everybody talks about I don’t want the government coming between me and my doctor, I’ll tell you who’s already come between me and my doctor, and that’s my insurance company in the past. So, you know, where’s the culpability for insurance companies as well? And how do we get all entities together to start really start offering the right thing at a fairer price?
RUBIN: Well, that’s another reason why we’re hearing in Washington. The two primary stakeholders here that have been left out of the dialogue are patients and doctors. And that’s why we’re here. We’re here to tell the President and members of Congress we’re the guys in the trenches. The AMA does not speak for a majority of practicing physicians. They only represent 17 percent of the doctors out there, and most of those people are retired or medical students or in academics. We have solutions. Let’s all sit down, slow up the rhetoric. This is a process. It’s very complicated. And let’s do it right. There’s a right way and a wrong way, and the wrong way is to do a politically expedient form of legislation, which is what Congress is doing right now. Let’s all get together, slow it down, there’s no rush. But let’s have meaningful, sustainable reform...
ASMAN: Let’s be specific about what that reform is. Liz put her finger right on it. It’s getting the middle man out, whether the middle man is the insurance company, Medicare, Medicaid, or, God knows, this public option. How do you do that? How do you get the middle men out and just develop that better relationship between the doctor and the patient?
RUBIN: Well, first thing we need to do is to repeal the McCairn-Ferguson Act, which is an obscure ruling that I think went into law like in the 1960s which basically exempts insurance companies from anti-trust laws. So insurance companies can dominate the market and create a monopoly or an oligopoly because they’re allowed to collude and discuss prices with each other. That’s something that other businesses – especially doctors – cannot do. So, right there, that drives up the cost of premiums. So, of course, we need to promote competition. And you promote competition by eliminating that rule, for one, and two, allow patients, drop the state barriers to buying insurance. I live in Georgia. I don’t really want all the mandates around those policies. I know what’s best for my family. You know what’s best for yours. Allow us to drop the state boundaries to purchase insurance and allow people to pool their risk and shop on the open market across the entire country. And that will do a couple of things. It will uncouple insurance from the workplace and allow it to be portable. And these are things that will allow patients to have more freedom of choice and will certainly bring down the costs. And there’s other issues, too. We can’t even honestly, intellectually, have this debate without discussing tort reform at the same time because the cost of defensive medicine and the cost of the premiums we pay each year, doctors and hospitals, amounts to $400 billion a year.