Ron Paul discusses Obamacare with David Scheiner and Dean Ornish on CNN

Show: Larry King Live
Host: Wolf Blitzer
Date: August 11, 2009

Wolf Blitzer: Joining us now, Dr. David Scheiner of Chicago. He’s a member of Physicians for a National Health Program, which supports a single payer national health insurance program. He was Barack Obama’s personal physician in Chicago for more than two decades.

Also joining us, Dr. Dean Ornish, he’s the founder and president of Preventive Medicine Research Institute. He’s the medical editor of, and Congressman Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, former Republican presidential candidate. He himself is an MD. He was a flight surgeon in the US Air Force and later an OB/GYN in civilian practice.

Gentlemen, thanks to all of you for coming in. Let me play for you what President Obama said today about a so-called single payer system.

Barack Obama: I’m not promoting a single-payer plan. I am promoting a plan that will assure that every single person is able to get health insurance at an affordable price, and that if they have health insurance, they are getting a good deal from the insurance companies. That’s what I’m fighting for.

Wolf Blitzer: Dr. Scheiner, you’re disappointed in your old friend, your patient, President Obama, because you want a single payer system along the lines of what’s the system in Britain or in Canada, is that right?

David Scheiner: Yes. You know, my legitimacy is not just that took care of President Obama. I have a huge practice. I see between 4,000 to 5,000 patient visits a year. Eighty percent of my patients are in single payer. The federal government has never, in the 40 years I’ve dealt with Medicare, never interfered with the care of my patients. This constant myth that the government will get between the patient and the doctor, it is an absolute myth.

The insurance companies are constantly in our way, constantly interfering. I lost a patient yesterday who had to leave me because she didn’t have the right kind of insurance. The cost of private health insurance administration is $400 billion a year. If we had a single payer, that would be eliminated, 50 million or 48 million could be covered just by that saving alone.

Continuing private health insurance is crazy, and the private health insurance companies have not shown us they can be trusted. Why do we keep coming back and asking them that we can trust them? And the pharmaceutical companies, why aren’t we buying in bulk and negotiating the prices of the drugs? The rest of the world looks upon us with disdain. We’re 37th in the world in health statistics. Even Slovenia is ahead of us and as Carville said we pay twice as much as our nearest competitor.

Wolf Blitzer: All right.

David Scheiner: This is insane.

Wolf Blitzer: Let’s ask Congressman Paul to respond. I suspect you disagree.

Ron Paul: Yes, I do. We have a one payer system with Medicare and we had… it’s broke and so that’s part of the problem we have today. Well, everybody agrees we have reform, but where I find we’re missing the boat is the definition of what we’re doing.

For some reason, I think it’s the fact that 35 years ago, we introduced the notion of managed care based on the fact that people thought they have a right to medical care. I don’t accept that because if you do, that means the majority can vote to demand anything they want from the minority and in a free society, we’re supposed to protect the minority and not the majority.

But then also this idea of insurance, they keep using this issue of insurance, it doesn’t even conform to the definition of insurance. Insurance is something that measures risks. The medical insurance does not measure risks. They want paid services. I mean, what if we try to pass out food in this manner. It absolutely wouldn’t work. But the real key to this is not a whole lot of people are totally upset with the medical care system, what they’re upset with is the costs, but nobody is really talking about why the costs are high.

Wolf Blitzer: Well, let me… let me… let me, Doctor…

Ron Paul: You have inflation. You need tort reform. Tort is one thing. We don’t have competition. We’re not allowed to sell these insurance policies across state lines, so there’s a tremendous amount, but let me tell you, you’re never going to solve the problem of high costs of medical care if you don’t solve the problem of inflation and that’s coming down the road.

Wolf Blitzer: All right. Let me let Dr. Ornish…

Ron Paul: And you have to have competition.

Wolf Blitzer: … Dr. Ornish weigh in as well. The President is having a tough enough time, even getting what’s called a public option, a government-run health insurance agency to compete with the private health insurance companies, let alone a single payer system. Realistically, what do you hope for, Dr. Ornish, because I know you’ve done a lot of work in preventive medicine.

Dean Ornish: Well, thank you for the chance to be here. I agree. I have great respect for President Obama and I agree that we need universal coverage. But I’m deeply suspicious of single payer. It sounds great in theory, but I think the Founding Fathers had it right. When you have too much power concentrated in one place, whether it’s the… what happened with the Bush administration, with the executive branch taking on too much power, where a large or some of the large corporations had misused it, or what happened with Medicare. It took us 14 years of Medicare just to get them to cover intensive lifestyle intervention.

I think we’re asking the wrong question… it’s a false choice here. The real issue is that the problem with health reform is that it’s focusing way too much on who is covered – the 48 million, which we need to do – but not enough on what’s covered. We pay for… if we just do more bypass surgeries and angioplasty and drugs and so on 48 million more people, then costs go up exponentially. That’s when we have these painful choices like rationing, raising taxes, letting the deficit go up. That’s threatening the viability of health reform.

But what we’ve found in our studies is that lifestyle cannot only be prevention, it could be treatment. Three quarters of the $2.1 trillion in healthcare costs are really sick care costs. It goes for four diseases; heart disease, diabetes, prostate or breast cancer, and obesity, all of which we found not only can it be prevented, but even reversed by changing lifestyle at a fraction of the costs.

Wolf Blitzer: I believe Dr. Scheiner you probably agree as well. You got to do exactly what Dr. Ornish is saying, “Deal with preventive,” that is to make sure you don’t have to do these very expensive, complicated procedures. You prevent people to try to do the best you can from getting sick in the first place.

But given the current political environment in Washington, Dr. Scheiner, do you see any possibility that even if President Obama wanted a single payer system, what Canada has or Britain has or France has, that he could politically get it through?

David Scheiner: Well, you know, the question is that right now, there are 89 representatives in the House that support single payer. Sixty percent of physicians support single payer. My organization of 16,000 physicians, we’re fighting for single payer. The question is I don’t think the public has adequately been informed as to what single payer is. It has been so demonized. Medicare works. Now why is Medicare expensive? Because it takes care of old, sick people. If it was universal, the cost would be spread out. If the administrative costs were lowered, we would be able to afford it. I don’t know why people are so frightened.

A national health insurance doesn’t mean that we have socialized medicine. We have private doctors and free choice. Patients do not have free choice today. They have to go to the doctor their insurance company says. They have to go to the hospital, the laboratory, the medication constantly changes because they tell us it’s not in their formulae. I want the public to have freedom of choice single payer gives.

Wolf Blitzer: All right. Let’s talk a little bit about some of these advocacy ads that have been running, especially those suggesting that seniors are going to be especially hurt by the Obama plan, the Democrats’ plan, and let David Scheiner, Dr. David Scheiner, who was President Obama’s personal physician for 20 years, let him weigh in. What do you say to those seniors who are really worried that the government will undermine their health in their remaining years?

David Scheiner: Well, you know, eighty percent of my patients are Medicare and a vast majority of those are 75 and older. I think this is a myth that again has been promulgated by the forces that are against health reform because they know that would scare senior citizens.

Now, the idea of addressing advanced directives is an extremely good idea. I mean, I have advanced directives. I think everybody should have them. I think it makes great sense.

Wolf Blitzer: You’re talking like a living will?

David Scheiner: Exactly, but the public has been scared by the scaremongers who obviously don’t want change. But we know the medical-industrial complex does not want change. There’s no way around it. A lot of people will not make that same amount of money.

Wolf Blitzer: All right. Let me let Congressman Paul weigh in […] on that specific issue. What’s wrong with letting folks decide what kind of major medical treatment they might want down the road, especially at an advanced stage?

Ron Paul: Well, they say they’re not going to have any control, but they’re going to pick the insurance companies and thinking about picking insurance companies, if they pick the insurance companies that like what they have in Oregon, when you have ended life discussions, you know, there they have assisted suicide.

So this idea that that’s a benign argument I don’t think holds water, but it isn’t as radical as some people claim, but I think it opens up the door for these discussions because the government will be paying for the medicine.

But I would just want to make one statement about the payment of this. The cost is a big deal. Every medical program we’ve ever introduced in this country that we claim it will cost us certain amount, it always costs two to three times as much. So if they say this will cost a trillion, it will cost $2 or $3 trillion.

Wolf Blitzer: All right. Let me… Go ahead…

Ron Paul: We already have $50 billion just to keep the records in this. I have a suggestion.

Dean Ornish: Before we run out of time, I’d like to say something…

Ron Paul: Cut the spending overseas. Bring some of that money home and take care of these people until we could get back to a sensible medical system.

Wolf Blitzer: Dr. Ornish, go ahead.

Dean Ornish: You know, we keep talking about health insurance reform, but we’re not really talking about healthcare reform. We found that the more people change, the more, the better they got and no matter how old or how sick they were in terms of their heart disease, their prostate cancer, their diabetes, and so on. Senator Ron Wyden, the Democrat from Oregon and Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa have introduced the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 that will pay for intensive lifestyle interventions. That can really make healthcare available to those who need it and have our costs go down rather than up and then we don’t have this painful choice.


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  • Let’s say you have osteoarthritis – probably the most frequent disorder of locomotors system. It is often treated with a surgical procedure to clean out debris in the joint, using a miniature scope inserted straight into the knee. But more and more researchers emphasize fact that the surgery works, but no better than other treatments. Dr. Kalousek is a rheumatologist from says – surgery doesn’t stop the arthritic process.

    For example American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) persuades patients to consider physical therapy as an alternative non-surgical option for treatment of osteoarthritis.

    Doctor Kalousek believes that beside health SPA treatments everyone can protect joints from osteoarthritis or for sure slow its progression simply by following recommendations:

    -Reduce weight. Just remember that every pound lost reduces the load exerted on the knee for each step by 4 kilogram.

    -Get active. Exercise strengthens the muscles around joints, which can stop cartilage from wearing down.

    -Stay straight. Good posture protects the neck, back, hip and knee joints.

    -Don’t sit still. Changing positions can decrease joint and muscle stiffness.

    -Lift cautiously. Use your strongest & biggest joints and muscles when lifting or carrying to avoid straining smaller joints.

    -Break it up. Rest between periods of heavy activity to prevent repetitive stress on joints that can accelerate wear and tear.

    In other words non-surgical therapy is a good alternative of surgical operation for many patients!

  • Phil Peterson

    Why should I pay for my neighbor’s healthcare? I’ve worked hard to make sure that my & my family’s health care is taken care of, so why should I be forced – through taxation – to pay for someone else’s health care?
    Make no mistake about it, health care is very definitely NOT a right, any more than food, shelter, clothing & employment are a right. None of those things are the responsibility of the government. They are the responsibility of individuals. Everyone who demands the government provide health care are demanding that their neighbor pay for their health care through taxation & coercion – a.k.a. legalized theft.

  • james salter

    I want the same health care Ron Paul and all the other government officials have. Is it not a government run program? Talk about hipocracy

    • VR

      sorry james, but Dr. Paul does not accept government benefits.

    • Egg Zackly that is how an egg is similiar to a tectonic plate!

  • dave

    I like Paul, but all politicians make promises, never deliver, and ask us for money while we are working hard just to put food on the table as they live in their million dollar homes. Send their children to the best schools.
    The working class is not represented in Washington matter who is in office.
    Every one knows, the rich and the are the people Washington looks after. The hard working middle-class make the rich richer and support the poor. The middle-class also gets screwed no matter what. The poor have no money to pay and the rich will find was out of paying so the middle-class pays for everything and robs peter to pay Paul so we can afford grocery.

    • VR

      Just hide in a cave and wish then.

  • dave

    Why not just get rid of money and do for the good of society? Is that not the only way to advance our race?

    • christine

      We think alike, although I’m not sure most of us are advanced enough to see this yet. Maybe this is what we are evolving to now. Far too many decisions are made based on money (and the corruption, divisions, and fighting that follow) rather than on love and the priciples of a higher calling for the betterment and the survival of mankind. We’ve lost our way, gotten way off track and are suffering because of it.

      • Mrs. Pilgrim

        If evolution of mankind is true–and its premise is survival of the fittest and concern primarily for oneself and (occasionally) one’s own progeny (until they become competition)–then why do you think humans can ever rise above the “Number One” mentality that makes capitalism so functional, or that we even SHOULD? Is it not against everything that made us great, as a species?

        Illogical. Placing the good of others above one’s own good–in answer to an overriding and unbending moral rightness–is a Christian idea.

        • christine

          To love oneself as others doesn’t place anyone above or below another. That’s a Christian belief.

        • Nate Y

          Seems like you have a misunderstanding of evolution. Evolution is not “survival of the fittest and concern with only onself and (occasionally) one’s progeny”.

          Also, ethical precepts such as the golden rule and “placing the good of others above one’s own good” are not exclusive to Christianity. Such precepts can be found in virtually every religion/code of ethics/morals.

    • VR

      Money is not the evil, anymore than cars or five gallon buckets.

  • christine

    Practice a Little Preventative Medicine …and Stop Our Government NOW.

    I know many of us are justifiably complaining about issues with our government. Some of us are feeling there is little that we can do to actually see an immediate change, some relief from so much negativity coming at us at once. We’re enduring financial hardships, joblessness, and seeing our liberties being taken away by the passing of each new law, our personal wealth stolen and our kids in debt before they have even been born.

    Well, I suggest to you now that each one of us has an opportunity right now, TODAY, to make a huge change in the course of history and help our nation avoid a lot more misery, pain and suffering.

    No one here doubts that much of our government is secretive and working against us. We are angry about the shadow government, the elite bankers and those within the FED, with Goldman Sachs and major corporations who are surrounding us like an army, taking our wealth and taking our country down. We have felt helpless. This all goes against what America is to us in our hearts was at its inception. It is land of a free people, not an oppressed people.

    I would like you to take a look at a complaint being filed in Washington State. The print is tiny (CTRL+ will give you larger print). Be sure to read through it all the way to the end. You will get an education! If you have anger towards any of the elite and secret groups, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM ! YOUR COMPLAINT CAN CAUSE AN INVESTIGATION AND CRIMINAL CHARGES TO BE LEVELED AGAINST THOSE WHO HAVE HARMED US AND CONTINUE TO HARM US. They won’t stop themselves, so we have to. We call it then end of tyranny. Let’s get back to living fully in freedom. We need to eradicate them from our financial and governmental system! This complaint summarizes one of the largest crimes planned against Americans and other people around the world, ever! This is global. It will start in a couple of months, mid-October, so we haven’t much time to act. Point by point, you will see that this fall our government with several other organizations listed in the complaint have actually planned to harm us in ways we could never have ever imagine. Obama has appeared on television telling us how he has encouraged several countries to be prepared to also force vaccinate its citizens. As he puts it “they are responsibly prepared”. Nice sounding, but far from nice.

    Names like Goldman Sachs, the elite bankers, criminal syndicate, the World Health Organization (WHO) and many others, several in Illinois, and drug executives who plan to make a lot of money from the sale of a vaccine for the H1N1 virus, but this vaccine is contaminated and lethal. A criminal indictment has firstly been filed against WHO and others by Jane Bergermeister.

    Charges Filed Against Baxter and Avir

    Help take down the criminals who have stolen so much from us already, and who now plan to systematically take our very lives, once again under the guise of helping us. No, they are not helping us, they are helping themselves to everything we own if we die from this vaccine! There is so much documentation. Get legal counsel if you need to. Talk it over with others, but please consider filing a complaint in your state. Who will stand up and put your anger to good use? As Ron Paul says, we need to convert that energy of anger into good use. Here’s your opportunity.

    A Guide to Filing for an Injunction in a State

    You can also visit my website at for links to more interviews with Jane, videos and info. It’s not a fancy website, but it will do for now.

  • Herewe Goagain

    A warning that the new swine flu jab is linked to a deadly nerve disease has been sent by the Government to senior neurologists in a confidential letter.
    The letter from the Health Protection Agency, the official body that oversees public health, has been leaked to The Mail on Sunday, leading to demands to know why the information has not been given to the public before the vaccination of millions of people, including children, begins.

    It tells the neurologists that they must be alert for an increase in a brain disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which could be triggered by the vaccine.
    GBS attacks the lining of the nerves, causing paralysis and inability to breathe, and can be fatal.

    The letter, sent to about 600 neurologists on July 29, is the first sign that there is concern at the highest levels that the vaccine itself could cause serious complications.
    It refers to the use of a similar swine flu vaccine in the United States in 1976 when:

    More people died from the vaccination than from swine flu.
    500 cases of GBS were detected.
    The vaccine may have increased the risk of contracting GBS by eight times.
    The vaccine was withdrawn after just ten weeks when the link with GBS became clear.
    The US Government was forced to pay out millions of dollars to those affected.

    Read more:

  • E Perez Jones

    Or just eliminate unneccesary and expensive insurance, or facilitate the service in another country with reliable care and of course reliable diagnosis!

  • E Perez Jones

    Well, the health care system has to be improved, and also people have to be able to afford it. So it can be kinda sustainnable.

    Options are important for the patients and too much paperwork (and associated expenses)are sickening to both, doctors and patients.

    I am guessing that the system is huge, loaded with bureaucracy, and likely can be adjusted where really needed. And that the adjustment can be expanded into PREVENTION, which for younger working people can be part of BENEFITS (gyms, outdor running tracks covered and secure for those huge medical schools/hospital complexes, specialty food or even personal higiene services etc etc etc) that overall translate into the wellness area.

    I don’t appreciate the big uncertainty spread over the web on the flu issue and the concerns it raises.

    How can no one clarifies on this? you know people get sick anyway, why increase that?

  • Herewe Goagain

    A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual, and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

    Fascism, we have arrived.