Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) is a practicing family physician of 33 years. He is serving his freshman term in the House, first elected to Congress in late elections from the Bayou State in December of last year. Fleming currently practices medicine in Minden, La.
Last week, Fleming introduced House Resolution 615 which would oblige any member of Congress voting in favor of a government run health care bill to leave their private insurance plan and join the Democrats’ “public option” boondoggle.
Any member of Congress who votes against Obamacare wouldn’t be obliged to sign up for it but those who do, would. So far, Fleming told me, the entire Republican leadership has signed his Fleming pledge.
I asked him how many Democrats have signed the pledge. “Despite reaching out to the Democrats, including the Speaker, we’ve had no Democrats sign up for it.”
“Americans know that there’s a disconnect between the American people and Congress,” Fleming continued. “Congress and Washington in general have become sort of a ruling elite. We have a bad habit of passing laws that subject the population to all sorts of problems and headaches, yet we exempt ourselves. So I think it’s time the American people hold Congress accountable. If Congress thinks that there should be a public plan, which would effectually lead to Canadian-style/United Kingdom-style socialized medicine, then they should be the first to sign up for it.”
Since he is intimately familiar with health insurance, and having recently signed up for his Congressional benefits, I asked Fleming talked about claims Democrat members were making from the House floor yesterday that their health care bill would offer the same plans that a member of Congress gets to choose from.
“That is absolutely incorrect,” Fleming said. “The public option plan is what people on Medicaid have today. Government funded, government run, government regulations, very restricted, one-size-fits-all. What we have in Congress today in the Federal Employees Benefits Plan is really an exchange. I can go on an internet site and I can choose from hundreds of private insurance plans. In fact, the private insurance plan that I’m on is Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana, which is no better, no less certainly, than any other good private plan, but it is a private insurance plan. It is not a government plan.”
“To suggest that somehow Congressional members are under a government run healthcare plan, that is not the truth,” Fleming said. “We enjoy private insurance and will continue to do so even under the Democrats’ plan even though most of the nation will be pulled off of private insurance and onto a Medicare-style insurance program.”
President Obama yesterday assured an AARP tele-town hall audience that Medicare would not experience cuts under the Democrat plan, yet admittedly Obama doesn’t actually know what’s in the bill. I asked Fleming to clarify and if there were cuts in Medicare or any risk to coverage to the elderly under the Democrats’ government run plan.
“I think that seniors have the most to lose out of this,” Fleming said. “The bill takes out of Medicare $400 billion dollars over the next 10 years for things provided to seniors. What the President is saying here, I think in a dishonest way, is we’re going to take money out of Medicare because you don’t really need it. We’ve figured out a way that we can get that care to you more cost efficiently. But the fact is that there’s no government run insurance program in the United States or any other country where that’s ever been true. The nature of government itself is that it causes an explosion of fraud, waste and abuse. Anytime a politician tells you that in a government run program he can rid fraud, waste and abuse, he’s just not being honest with you.”
Fleming also confirmed the mandatory end-of-life consultations included in the bill.
“The bill also requires mandated visits between doctors and elderly patients periodically to discuss end of life,” Fleming continued. “And if you’re in a nursing home, the requirement is even more frequent. That means euthanasia — that we need to be talking to the elderly about the fact that maybe they’re using up more resources and that perhaps they should not use more health care resources and allow younger, healthier people to use that resource money. That’s the kind of savings the President wants to have. As a physician, I am definitely against that.”
“There’s going to be this bureaucracy that is going to determine what procedures and what treatments and what medicines are cost effective,” Fleming said. “It’s going to reward doctors for withholding certain types of care that the government deems to be unnecessary care. Your doctor would be rewarded to provide less care for you and perhaps even remove care from you. As a physician and a potential patient, I am not very happy about that idea either.”
Welcome to Congress, Dr. Fleming.
Price Introduces Innovative Medical Liability Reform
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Chairman of the Republican Study Committee and former orthopedic surgeon, introduced an innovative bill yesterday that would tackle one of the largest problems facing the healthcare industry: tort reform. Democrats have completely ignored tort reform in their attempted government takeover of health care. Price offers direct answers to skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance costs and the practice of defensive medicine caused by rapacious lawsuits that drive up the cost of healthcare.
Price’s “HealthCOURT Act will: 1) Develop performance-based quality measures established by the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement (PCPI) and physician specialty organizations; 2) Establish a best-practices affirmative defense set by qualified physician consensus-building organization (such as PCPI) and physician specialty organizations; 3) Create grants for State Health Courts for the resolution of disputes concerning injuries allegedly caused by health care providers; and 4) Give the Sense of Congress that insurers are liable if they make a decision that causes harm.”
“In medicine, as in life, mistakes can be made,” Price said. “But unfortunately, our current system has forced many doctors to practice defensive medicine to shield themselves from the specter of outrageous malpractice damages, putting upward pressure on the cost of health care. Accordingly, comprehensive medical liability reform has a key role to play in any attempt to decrease health care costs. The HealthCOURT Act addresses this by reforming the process for pursing medical malpractice cases and decreasing the impetus for care providers to practice defensive medicine.”
“By creating a new legal structure that relies on the experience and expertise of medical professionals, physicians may focus on providing the proper care,” Price said. “Just as any successful health reform will be patient-centered, the HealthCOURT Act will ensure that physicians are focused on the needs of patients rather than the threat of predatory lawsuits.”
Lindsey Graham Backs ‘Wise Latina Woman’
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) voted in favor of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor yesterday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, helping enable the nomination to go to the full Senate for a probable final vote next week. After eliciting some of the most frightening answers from the nominee regarding whether or not the Second Amendment applies to the states, and the personal right to self defense, Graham abandoned the right to bear arms and voted in favor of Sotomayor. He was the only Republican on the committee to endorse the nominee with an affirmative vote. For the first time in his 29 years on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) opposed a nominee.