Senate GOP’s Doctors Launching Health Care Road Show
Congressional Republicans are making a couple of house calls this week in their continuing effort to block President Barack Obama’s health care reform plans and push GOP alternatives.Anchored by two GOP Members who are also medical doctors — Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) — House and Senate Republicans are joining forces beginning Wednesday and ending Friday to hold four town hall meetings and tour local medical facilities. Although the events are designed to elicit feedback from the public and promote Republican health care proposals, it was not by accident that they were scheduled for regions of the country represented by key moderate Democrats whose positions are considered crucial to the White House’s prospects for enacting its reform agenda this year.The three-day swing is scheduled to begin Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. Barrasso and Coburn will be joined by Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) to tour a hospital, followed by a town hall meeting at the McAuley Center. In their political crosshairs, however subtly, is centrist Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.).On Thursday, Barrasso and Coburn will be in Rogers, Ark., for a tour of Mercy Medical Center, followed by a town hall meeting at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. They are set to be joined by Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.).Arkansas Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor are moderate Democrats whose support for Obama’s health care plan is not guaranteed. Lincoln is up for re-election in 2010.Later Thursday, Barrasso and Coburn will travel to northeast Mississippi’s 1st district, a seat held by moderate Democratic Rep. Travis Childers. The Senators will be joined by their colleague, Sen. Roger Wicker (R), who preceded Childers in the 1st district, for a town hall meeting and a tour of Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto in Southaven.On Friday, Barrasso and Coburn will be in New Orleans to tour the Louisiana State University Center for Advanced Practice and Student Learning Center, and the Tulane Community Health Center, followed by a town hall meeting at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. Joining them will be Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Louisiana GOP Reps. Rodney Alexander, John Fleming and Steve Scalise. Fleming is also a physician.Republicans consider centrist Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) key to whether Senate Democrats are able to get 60 votes for Obama’s health care reform plans.This is not the first time Barrasso, who is an orthopedic surgeon, and Coburn, who is an obstetrician, have worked together. They regularly host an Internet radio show called “The Senate Doctors,— sponsored by the Senate Republican Conference, which was launched to push back against the Democrats’ plans for health care reform while simultaneously promoting GOP proposals.