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President Obama's Former Physician Wants More Sweeping Health Care Reform; Remembering Eunice Kennedy Shriver; John Hughes Remebered

Aired August 11, 2009 - 21:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, GUEST HOST: Tonight, the frightening in your face battle over health care reform.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want this country turning into Russia -- turning into a socialized country.


BLITZER: Fierce and fired up, crowds are held back to keep them from coming to blows.

Is this a life and death struggle for the old, the sick and the poor or a political controversy that's too hot for the president to handle?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You will not be waiting in any lines. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance.


BLITZER: Will health care reform make or break Barack Obama?

Then, as Senator Ted Kennedy fights for his live, his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, passes away. America's most famous family mourns once more.



I'm Wolf Blitzer sitting in for Larry tonight.

We've got an outstanding panel -- a full discussion, beginning with President Obama's number one priority right now, health care reform.

Is it going to happen?

Joining us, James Carville, the CNN contributor and Democratic strategist. Also joining us, Ben Stein, the economist and attorney, once was a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford. As you know, he's also a TV personality and actor.

And joining us from Las Vegas, Penn Jillette, the illusionist, the best-selling author. He's the taller, more talkative half of Penn and Jillette -- Penn and Teller. They're performing, by the way, at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Their "B.S." Is now in its seventh Showtime series. He's a libertarian, as a lot of our viewers know.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

The president was in New Hampshire at a town hall forum today making his case for health care reform.

And among other things, he said this.


OBAMA: Under the reform we're proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. You will not be waiting in any lines. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don't believe anyone should be in charge of your health insurance decisions but you and your doctor.


BLITZER: All right. James Carville, what does he need to do right now to win this fight?


Well, you know, he's -- he's going on the road. There obviously have been a lot of misconceptions out there, to say the least.

It's -- what I thought was interesting about today is the president of the United States went out. He always does a good job. He was knowledgeable and people were very nice, as they generally are.

I saw the woman in Pennsylvania talking about I don't want to be Russia on television. I saw more of Senator McCaskill, more of Senator Specter than I did.

And what's happened, it seems, that the debate, at least, is the president's trying to get back some kind of control of it because now it's people that are showing up at the town hall meetings and the more they get on television, the more they're going to show up, so the more they can get on television.

But this isn't -- this is an interesting thing that's going on here (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: Although his town hall was pretty receptive, pretty friendly compared to Senator Specter's... CARVILLE: Right...

BLITZER: ...or Senator McCaskill's

CARVILLE: That happens when the president goes out. People -- if people are disrespectful to the president and then probably, also, if somebody started screaming or pulling at him, the Secret Service gets very, very itchy about something like that around the president.

But -- but the point is, is these -- these protests, people are finding out that you can get a lot of air time by being very loud and belligerent. And I think that's part of what's going on here. That seems to be why this debate does seem to be getting pretty passionate out there.

BLITZER: Well, there's a lot of anger out there, Ben Stein. And a lot of folks simply are scared.

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST, TV PERSONALITY, CONSERVATIVE: Well, they are scared. I mean the real question is this. We -- we all can stipulate that we want to have Americans in good health. Nobody wants an American who wants health insurance or who -- and cannot afford it to die from a disease or from an injury.

Richard Nixon, for whom I worked, put up to Congress -- sent up to Congress the first national health insurance program. I wrote the message sending it up when I was a 29-year-old kid. So Republicans want people to be cared for, too.

The question is, how are we going to do it?

Where is the money going to come from?

Are we going to have a Department of Motor Vehicles bureaucrat whom we call a health bureaucrat, for this purpose, standing between you and your doctor?

There are a lot of unanswered questions. President Obama says the government is not going to take over your health care plan. Buried deep in the bill, there is a provision that says within a few years, the government will be able to revise all private health care plans and change them to suit government specifications. So it means you won't be able to have your health care plan anymore.

The whole subject is fraught and very, very scary. I don't know why President Obama thinks that after six months in office, he is uniquely qualified to solve this. It seems to me, he does not need to be rushing into something that is so emotionally fraught and so scary.

BLITZER: Well, on that point, Penn, he did win the election. There is a decisive Democratic majority in the Senate and the House. And a lot of folks think he has a mandate from the American public to -- to improve the nation's health care system.

PENN JILLETTE, ILLUSIONIST, LIBERTARIAN, Well, you know, I'm always interested in protecting the minority, the people who don't go with the mainstream. And the idea of the United States, to me, is to protect the individuals who are outsiders. And I think that when you have the president winning, he did not win by 100 percent. He has not got a mandate from everybody. And protecting the rights -- the idea of limited government, I think, is very, very important. And a government that can do all this for you, as has been said many times before, can also take everything away.

And I think there's a -- there's an issue of just how much power the government has very separate from whether they'll do a good job or a bad job, you know, pragmatically.

BLITZER: All right. Hold on for a second, because in contrast to the president's forum in New Hampshire, there was acrimony at two other forums involving two Democratic senators, Senator Specter of Pennsylvania, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Listen to this.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: If you want to be let out of here, you're welcome to go. Now wait a minute. Now wait a minute.



SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I don't understand this rudeness.

What is this?

I beg your pardon?


MCCASKILL: You don't trust me?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sick of the lies. I don't like being lied to. I don't like being lied about. This administration is doing both of those things.

MCCASKILL: Hey, hey, hey.


MCCASKILL: OK, ma'am. OK. Everybody sit down. Everybody sit down.


BLITZER: She was having an especially tough time out in Missouri, Senator McCaskill.

James, those are the images. You're going to see on television, because it's extraordinary what's going on.

CARVILLE: Well, yes, I mean -- I've got to say, you're seeing it on television -- look, there was -- on Campbell's show they said they had this health commissioner czar. No, it's not. It's somebody that sort of oversees the insurance (INAUDIBLE).

There are people who are saying, you know, get -- keep the government off my Medicare or there were going to be these -- these death panels and this kind of stuff.

Look, if this thing goes down and it is perceived that it went down because people were lying about what was in there, as this guy from Polyfac (ph) pointed out, then there's going to be anger from the other side.

BLITZER: Is that conceivable to you, that this president, with the majorities that the Democrats have...


BLITZER: the Senate and the House, will not get something passed?

CARVILLE: I mean, I think -- I think he will get something. But I don't, you know -- you know, who knows?

You know, like I say, I was -- who knows for sure what's going to happen?

I think he will. But this thing, you know, there's people, you know, can -- need to also take -- the 60 percent of bankruptcies in this country is involving health care costs. I mean I could go on and on. Health care premiums double. There are people that say, well, gee, no. Wait. Wait a little bit longer, you know. We just don't want to rush into this thing.

And I think, you know, President Roosevelt started this in 1937. President Truman tried it. As Ben pointed out, President Nixon tried it. Certainly President Clinton did.

And the argument is always the same -- oh, no, it's too complicated. We just need to pull back and wait a little bit longer.

There are a lot of people out here that -- that this is to -- this is a really major issue that needs to be addressed.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, standby for a moment. Ben Stein, Penn Jillette, we're going to bring you back in, in a moment.

Our controversy -- controversy over this health care reform legislation -- our coverage of it will continue on LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


BLITZER: We're back with James Carville, Ben Stein and Penn Jillette.

Ben Stein, does the country need health care reform right now?

STEIN: Well, it needs health care reform, that's for sure. But we do not want to have a single American dying or being in pain or being injured or having some chronic complaint if we, as taxpayers, or we, as fellow citizens and brothers under God, can help him or her.

But how do you do it?

I mean, health care is a terrifying subject. Raising taxes is a terrifying subject. Big government is a terrifying subject. Intrusion into our private lives is a big subject. Government control over our lives is a big subject. These are terrifying subjects.

I -- I mean we -- we know that President Obama -- I'm sure he's doing this with a good heart -- is telling us a big lie when he says government can cut a huge amount out of health costs. It cannot be done without rationing. It cannot be done without either drastically cutting medical or nursing pay or drastically cutting the amount of medical care available to us.

So something's got to give. It's -- there's either going to be a kind of socialistic government that takes everything, eventually, or there's going to be some other solution. But it's a terrifying subject. I mean, I have to say -- you know, I'm in Chicago because I'm here for the funeral of John Hughes. This was a man with unlimited financial resources, incredibly, unbelievably smart. Even he couldn't get perfectly adequate health care with all his resources.

How is -- how is it going to be done?

BLITZER: He's the great -- he was the great film director...

STEIN: A great man.

BLITZER: He did "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"...

STEIN: A great man.

BLITZER: ...when a lot of us got to know you.

Penn Jillette, there are 45 million Americans who have no health insurance right now. This is unlike any other industrialized society in the world right now.

What should the U.S. be doing about that?

JILLETTE: Well, you know that all these numbers -- you know, the 45 million, some of those people are perfectly healthy people who are just moving through a phase and choosing not to have health care. But the whole idea that -- that the bad guys are using scare tactics and all of this stuff from the president about you're not supposed to be frightened by, you know, killing grandma for rationing and so on.

But then Obama uses anecdotal arguments, saying, you know, this woman had Hepatitis C; this woman's internal organs are not covered. Anecdotal is not the right argument, either.

I think someone should be taking the high road and talking about the philosophical and moral issues about this.

BLITZER: Well, what is...

JILLETTE: And I would also like to say that...

BLITZER: ...what is the philosophical and moral issue?

What responsibility does the society as a whole have for everyone having access to health insurance?

JILLETTE: That's not the question. The society as a whole has complete responsibility for everyone in that society.

The question is, how much should government be involved?

And the one thing that's really bad about any system like ours, which is the best system possible, is that you often end up doing compromise. And even if you have a good idea here and a good idea here, the middle can be very, very bad. And what you've got in 1,000 pages -- I haven't read all of it -- is the worst of both worlds. You have the worst part of the government controlling it and the worst part of...


JILLETTE: ...private people (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Those 1,000 pages, James, that's the House version of what's going on.




BLITZER: It's detailed. It's complex.


BLITZER: It's hard to get through. God knows, I've tried. I'm sure you have, as well.


BLITZER: Was it a mistake for the White House to defer -- to punt to Congress and let them craft this legislation, as opposed to doing what Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton did in '93 and '94. They crafted the legislation and Congress eventually rejected it.

But should the Obama administration have come up with a plan and then tried to sell it to Congress? CARVILLE: Well, if this works and they get a bill out, people will say this was really smart. And Rahm Emanuel has a lot to learn from this experience.

If it fails, it will be really stupid.

It doesn't -- if it works, it works. The real truth of the matter is we spend twice as much of a percentage of our GDP on health care than any other country in the world. And by almost -- it would be hard to come up with any measure that we outperform other countries on health care.

So some logic tells you if we're spending twice as much as anybody else in the world and they're getting -- and other industrialized countries like us are getting better results and (INAUDIBLE), maybe we ought to try to change something here.

But to get back to your question is, if they're successful, they'll be geniuses.

If they're unsuccessful, they'll be idiots. And that's the way -- and thus it was, thus it is, thus it shall be.

BLITZER: Well, when we come back, I'm going to ask you if it's going to be Waterloo, as one senator, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, said, if this health care legislation goes down to defeat.

Stick around.

We're only getting started here on LARRY KING LIVE.


BLITZER: The town halls about health care are being called town hells by some. They've degenerated into shouting and shouting down.

Take a look at more from Senator Specter's meeting in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and the president's response in New Hampshire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not a lobbyist with all kind of money to stuff in your pocket so that you can cheat the citizens of this country. So I'll leave and you can do whatever the hell you please to do. One day, God's going to stand before you and he's going to judge you and the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then you will get your just desserts.



OBAMA: There's been a long and vigorous debate about this. And that's how it should be. Now, that's what America's about, is we have a vigorous debate. That's why we have a democracy. But I do hope that we will talk with each other and not over each other.


BLITZER: All right. We'll be back with James Carville, Ben Stein and Penn Jillette, right after this.


BLITZER: At his town hall in New Hampshire, the president recalled earlier efforts to try to get health care reform enacted.


OBAMA: Every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got. They use their inference, they use their political allies to scare and mislead the American people. They start running ads. This is what they always do.

We can't let them do it again. Not this time. Not now.


BLITZER: Do you have a problem, Ben Stein, with special interests lobbying for their special interests?

STEIN: Absolutely not. That's what the government is all about. That's what everything is all about. President Obama's group has especially understood -- everybody is a special interest. The whole meaning of free speech is that special interests are allowed to tell their side of the story.

And after all, President Obama's administration is loaded with lobbyists and ex-lobbyists. He's got lobbyists now all -- all over town kissing up to him. So I don't know what his complaint is about lobbyists.

But look, here's the situation. Medicare is breaking this country's bank. It's going to make us broke eventually. Now, we're going to basically put the whole country on Medicare, eventually.

How are we going to pay for all that?

That's one giant problem.

I've got another issue. He's knocking, knocking, knocking the drug companies and saying a lot of these savings are going to come out of the drug companies.

Look, I agree, drugs are incredibly expensive -- prescriptions, I should say, are incredibly expensive, mind-bogglingly expensive. But they also save lives.

I don't want the drug companies -- the prescription drug companies to be tortured so they don't have enough money to make life- saving drugs for us. Let's find some other way to get the money than torturing it out of the drug companies.

BLITZER: Penn, you're a libertarian.

What do you hope emerges from all of this?

JILLETTE: Well, the one thing I like -- and perhaps this is awful to say -- but one thing that's really good is the people not trusting the government. I always like that. And Obama, who I think his heart is in the right place. I think he's a brilliant speaker and very, very smart. But I don't want the country to be worshipping everything he says. And seeing the country be very skeptical of the president, I think, is always a good thing.


BLITZER: I was going to say to James, if he fails right now, will Senator DeMint be right, this will be his Waterloo?

CARVILLE: Well, you know, I'm always reminded of one of my favorite -- you know, as you know, I'm a sports fan, like you are. And they asked Dwayne Thomas one time -- of course, he was a running back for the Dallas Cowboys and it was the day before the Super Bowl and he asked the reporters. He says, if the Super Bowl is the ultimate game, how come they play it again next year?


CARVILLE: You know what I mean?

So we always say this is it, this is the end of it, you know (INAUDIBLE). And we come back and -- you know, we come back and...


CARVILLE: -- you know, and Napoleon even came back after Waterloo.

BLITZER: I'm interested in making a turn to Hilary Clinton. She's in Africa doing very important work. She's fighting for women's right -- rights in Africa right now.

But she did have this exchange with a university student the other day in Africa, as well.

I'm going to play it for our viewers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does Mr. Clinton think, through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton?

And what does Mr. Motomo think on this situation?

Thank you very much. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Wait. You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?

My husband is not the secretary of State, I am.


CLINTON: so you asked my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I'm not going to be channeling my husband.


BLITZER: Now, we now know that the translator mistranslated the question. The questioner wanting to get her thoughts about what President Obama thinks, not what former President Clinton thinks. James, you know Mrs. Clinton about as well as anyone. It did -- it did sort of strike a raw nerve there. You could see she was irritated.

CARVILLE: (INAUDIBLE) a might peeved there. But, yes -- yes, anybody -- if I said, through the mouth of Mrs. Blitzer, would you tell me what Wolf, Blitzer thinks, I don't -- I probably wouldn't get a very good reaction there.

BLITZER: Or Mrs. Carville...


JILLETTE: It wouldn't be that scary.

CARVILLE: Yes, it would.

JILLETTE: It wouldn't be as scary as that.



JILLETTE: That's scary.

CARVILLE: I don't think that was -- there's got to be -- she -- she was dealing with Zaire. There's terrible problems with female mutilation in that country. She was probably, you know, a little bit -- and so she gets this question. And people say, you know what, I wish these politicians wouldn't all be so scripted and so stilted and so what everything. And had she not reacted like that, people would say well, gee, you're the secretary of State and somebody asks you what your husband thinks.

So there's not -- but I think that what she said was understandable. And I think it shows a kind of human side of her. And I'm fine with that. I'm crazy about it. Look, I love her, so I wouldn't criticize her...


BLITZER: I'm going to let Ben and Penn weigh in on Mrs. Clinton, as well.

STEIN: Look...

BLITZER: Stand by, guys. Hold your fire.

We're going to take another quick break.

Much more right after this.


BLITZER: Do you think the health care town hall disruptions are disrespectful or are they an expression of democracy?

Go to, click on our blog. Let us know what you think. We're anxious to hear from you

Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

I'm Wolf Blitzer sitting in tonight for Larry.

Ben Stein, do you think Secretary Clinton is doing a good job?

STEIN: Well, before I say that, I've always wondered how Democrats got to be Democrats. Obviously, not from reading history. Napoleon did not come back from the bath of Waterloo. He was exiled to St. Helen and he died there miserable and alone. So Democrats, read your history.

The second thing is, I think Senator Clinton was suffering from jet lag, God bless her. She was trying her best to give a good answer to a ridiculously insulting question. She's my law school classmate and I love her and I think she does a good job, although I -- I think she's got a lot of insoluble problems on her -- on her hands.

BLITZER: Yes. And she was in Congo today doing important work, where women are being raped and mutilated.

STEIN: Yes, very terrible.

BLITZER: Penn...


BLITZER: ...I think you'll agree with your colleagues here tonight, she's been impressive so far.

JILLETTE: Well, yes. But I wanted to ask a favor of James, because he -- he knows Hilary Clinton. If by any weird chance -- a one in a billion chance -- I'm ever in a room with Hilary Clinton and I start to say something that's going to get her that mad at me, do anything you have to, to get me out of the room. I mean throw a blanket over me, throw me out, shoot me. I just could not stand anyone yelling at me like that.

CARVILLE: Well, I've been yelled at worse than that just for (INAUDIBLE)...

JILLETTE: I know you have. I haven't. You have. I -- protect me, please. I'm begging you.


CARVILLE: Look, you can't -- she got testy. I don't know if that was like I don't want to make it (INAUDIBLE) said she was a might peeved. She was testy and she sort of reacted in -- in a certain way, if you will.

BLITZER: I mean I think it...

JILLETTE: Oh, I think it was justified...

BLITZER: I think it was -- it was...



CARVILLE: Yes, but I wouldn't have sat like a -- I didn't have the sense like she was like whatever. She just -- she was testy and she said don't -- you asked me what my husband thinks. I mean, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't exaggerate it into anything more than it is.


JILLETTE: She was 100 percent right. She was 100 percent right...

BLITZER: She was defin...

JILLETTE: ...but still frightening.

BLITZER: She was definitely right. And she -- and I got the impression -- and I think you'll agree, as well, you know, this guy, she -- the mistranslation was interested in what does her husband think, what does another African president -- a male think.

And she's saying to herself, what am I, chopped liver?

She's -- she's got opinions on this and she is the secretary of State, after all.

A quick...

JILLETTE: What am I, chopped liver, would have been a better answer.


BLITZER: What am I, chopped liver, would have been a good answer.

STEIN: And jet lag. You know, here we have another example of jet lag. These important people travel all around the world, they get exhausted, they get jet lagged. It's hard for them to keep their sense of humor. I think this is very much part of the story with the professor at Harvard that was mistreated by the police.

People get jet lagged. There's too much traveling, especially by high-ranking government officials. They've got to rest more. I mean they're -- the work they do is just too tiring.

BLITZER: He's -- he's absolutely right.

CARVILLE: And they get confused about Napoleon (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: All right. Guys, I want everybody to watch this clip from one of the great movies of all time.


STEIN: Adams?


STEIN: Adam Lee?


STEIN: Adamowsky?



STEIN: Adler?


STEIN: Anderson? Anderson?


STEIN: Bueler? Bueler? Bueler? Bueler?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's sick. My best friend's sister --


BLITZER: Ben Stein, obviously, that was you. You spoke today at the funeral of John Hughes, the director of that film and several other really excellent films. Give me a thought. He was only what, 59 years old?

STEIN: Fifty nine years old and I'm sure he had a wonderful, super good doctor, but even that doctor didn't find this undiagnosed heart condition that laid him low at 59. He was the poet of human exultation, the poet of happiness. I have a lot of friends in Iraq. One of them in particular told me, after John Hughes died, all we wanted to do, after we would go out on a tour, a patrol in 133 degree heat, get shot at, get bombed by IEDs, get rocketed, get mortared, is watch "Ferris Bueler's Day Off," so we know there's a better life waiting for us.

That was what John Hughes showed us, the best of the human condition. No rapes, no violence, no F-bombs, just human beings. Exult him, god bless him. He is much missed.

BLITZER: He wrote and directed "The Breakfast Club," "16 Candles," wrote and produced "Pretty in Pink," "Something Wonderful."

STEIN: "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," as good as "Death of a Salesman."

BLITZER: What was that underlying heart condition that he had, that obviously he was not diagnosed with?

STEIN: I don't know what it was. But a person doesn't just suddenly die at age 59 walking down the street, if he didn't have some kind of serious heart problem. Nobody murdered him, I assume. He died of some kind of heart condition. And what I was saying earlier is even this person, who was a genius, a genuine genius, very self- aware, access to any kind of health care he wanted, even that wasn't discovered.

So there's not going to be perfect health care for everybody for a long, long time. But the main thing I want to say is this is a man who was a wonderful lover of mankind, and he will be much missed.

BLITZER: Yes, I totally agree. I love those movies, especially "ferris Bueler's Day Off." Guys, thanks very much, James Carville, Ben Stein, Penn Jillette, all talented in their own right. We're going to continue our discussion of what's going on with health care reform in the United States, including a conversation with President Obama's former personal physician for 20 years. Guess what? He disagrees with the president.


BLITZER: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Wolf Blitzer, sitting in tonight for Larry. 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 at "Huffington Post." And Congressman Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, former Republican presidential candidate. He, himself, is an MD, was a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force, 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 singer-payer system.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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.


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

DR. DAVID SCHEINER, FORMERLY PRESIDENT OBAMA'S DOCTOR: Yes. My legitimacy is not just that I took care of President Obama. I have a huge practice. I see between 4,000 and 5,000 patients in 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 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 dollars a year. If we had a single-payer, that would be eliminated. The 50 million or 48 million could be covered by that saving alone.

Continuing private health insurance is crazy. The private health insurance companies have not shown us they can be trusted. Why do we keep coming back and asking them to -- 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 are 37th in the world in health statistics. Even Slovenia is ahead of us. As Carville said, we pay twice as much as our nearest competitor. It's insane.

BLITZER: Let's ask Congressman Paul to respond. I suspect you disagree.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Yes, I do. We have a one-payer system with Medicare and we have -- it's broke. And so that's part of the problem we have today. 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. In a free society, you're supposed to protect the minority, 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 risk. The medical insurance does not measure risk. They want paid insurance. They want paid services.

What if we tried 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 cost. Nobody's really talking about why the costs are high. You have inflation -- you need -- you have -- 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. Let me tell you, you're never going to solve the problem of high cost of medical care if you don't solve the problem of inflation. And that's coming down the road. You have to have competition.

BLITZER: Dr. Ornish weigh in, as well. The president's having a tough 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, doctor? I know you've done a lot of work in preventive medicine.

DR. DEAN ORNISH, "HUFFINGTON POST": Well, thank you for the chance to be here. 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 good in theory, but I think the founding fathers had it right. When you have too much power concentrated in one place, whether it's what happened with the Bush administration, with the executive branch taking on too much power, or some of the large corporations who misuse it, or what happens with Medicare --

It took us 14 years of Medicare just to get them to cover intensive lifestyle interventions. I think we're asking the wrong -- 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's 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 surgery and angioplasty and drugs and so on, 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 the health reform.

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

BLITZER: I believe, and Dr. Scheiner, you probably agree, as well, you've got to do exactly what Dr. Ornish is saying, deal with preventive medicine, 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?

SCHEINER: Well, you know, the question is -- right now there are 89 representatives in the House that support single-payer; 60 percent of physicians support single-payer. My organization, there's 16,000 physicians who are fighting for single-payer. The question is -- I don't think the public has been adequately informed as to what single- payer is. It's been so demonized.

Medicare works. 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, 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 formula.

I want the public to have freedom of choice. Single-payer gives it.

BLITZER: All right. Hold your thoughts, guys, for a moment because we're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue this important conversation right after this.


BLITZER: Do you have health insurance? That's tonight's quick vote question. Go to Cast your ballot.

The anger and aggressions at today's town hall meetings were especially apparent in Pennsylvania. Here's more of the sound and the fury directed at Senator Arlen Specter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created according to the Constitution?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you guys think that we want health care reform so bad, do this. Let's have a referendum. We'll tell you if we like your plan or not. How does that work?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the money runs out in this program, like it did in the Cash for Clunkers in four days -- where's this money going to come from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did not want to pay on a health care plan that includes the right for a woman to kill her unborn baby. Is this true that this plan is in the health care bill?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave us alone. That's all we would ask. Would you leave us alone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a 74-year-old man, if you develop cancer, we're pretty much going to write you off, because you're no longer a working citizen who will be paying taxes.

SPECTER: Well, you're just not right. Nobody 74 is going to be written off because they have cancer. That's a vicious, malicious, untrue rumor.


BLITZER: Senator Specter responding to some of his constituents in Pennsylvania. We'll be right back with our three physicians.



BLITZER: 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 me let 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?

SCHEINER: Well, you know, 80 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 have advance directives. I think everybody should have them. I think it makes great sense.

BLITZER: You're talking like a living will.

SCHEINER: Exactly. But the public has been scared by the scare mongers who obviously don't want change. 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.

BLITZER: Let me let Congressman Paul weigh in. Go ahead.

ORNISH: I wanted to say something.

BLITZER: Let me let Congressman Paul weigh in on that specific issue. When's wrong with letting folks decide what kind of major medical treatment they might want down the road, especially at an advanced stage?

PAUL: They say they are not going to have any control, but they are going to pick the insurance companies. And thinking about picking insurance companies; if they pick the insurance companies, what they have in Oregon, when you have end of life discussions, you know, there they have an 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 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, we claim it will cost a certain amount; it always cost two to three times as much.

So they say this will costs a trillion. It will cost two or three trillion. We already have 50 billion dollars just to keep the records in this.

I have a suggestion: cap the spending overseas. Bring some of that money home, and take care of these people until we get back to a sensible medical system.

ORNISH: You know, we talk about health insurance reform, but we're not really talking about health care reform. We found that the more people change, the more -- the better they got. No matter how old or how sick they were, in terms of their heart disease, their prostate cancer or their diabetes and so on.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat of Oregon, Senator John Cornyn, Republican from Texas, Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat from Iowa, introduced the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 that will pay for intensive life style interventions. That can really make health care available to those who need it, and have our costs go down, rather than up. Then we don't have these painful choices.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, we have to leave it there. Dr. Ornish, thanks for joining us. Dr. Scheiner, Congressman Paul, a good discussion, indeed.

We'll take a quick break. When we come back, we'll honor the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver.



EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER, SISTER OF LATE PRESIDENT KENNEDY: In Ancient Rome, gladiators went into the arena with these words on their lips: let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave for the attempt.


BLITZER: Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of the late President Kennedy. She died today at the age of 88. She was surrounded by her husband, her five children, her 19 grand children. Let's assess -- let's remember Eunice Kennedy Shriver with Vanessa Williams, the Grammy nominated recording artist, the star of TV's "Ugly Betty," a board member of Special Olympics, and Scott Hamilton. He earned a gold medal in figure skating. He's a board member of Special Olympics as well.

Vanessa, without her, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, there would be no Special Olympics, would there?

VANESSA WILLIAMS, GRAMMY NOMINATED RECORDING ARTIST: Absolutely not. She was a remarkable woman, filled with hope and faith, and she touched every person's lives that she came across, and people all over the world. Special Olympics is truly a movement. And once you join the family, you never leave.

I started out as an artist singing on the very special Christmas album back in '92. And I have not only been a fan, but signed on as a board member for the International Olympics, and have traveled the world, been able to speak, dine and be part of an amazing organization, where Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the leader.

BLITZER: Scott, what struck you most about her and her passion for the Special Olympics?

SCOTT HAMILTON, FMR. GOLD MEDAL OLYMPIAN: She was a force. Anyone in her presence felt her passion, felt her energy. And you just wanted to -- you just want to be a part of it. She was an amazing woman. Her energy, her drive and the fact that she took on a segment of our population that had no advocate, and she changed the world for them and for all of us.

To spend any time around this movement, to spend any time at the games and around these athletes, to see what they have done for their health, just an opportunity -- she changed the world. And she is one of the most -- probably the most significant woman I've ever met in my life.

BLITZER: It wasn't that long ago, Vanessa, when she basically started this little camp in her own backyard. And look how it's grown involving thousands and thousands of people all over the world.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. And it wasn't just games and running of a torch. It was health care for children all over the world and athletes all over the world that had been neglected, and parts of the world hadn't even discussed or confronted athletes with intellectual disabilities.

She made people change and made governments recognize in their own countries that there were people that had intellectual disabilities and that was her powerful force.

BLITZER: I suppose, Scott, her kids are going to be among those in the forefront, including Maria Shriver, her daughter. They're going to pick up this challenge.

HAMILTON: Well, Tim Shriver is daily involved in the Special Olympics movement. He's been a driving force for its growth. You look at Anthony with Best Buddies and Mark with Save the Children. The legacy will live on and on and on. And the people that are part of Special Olympics now -- it just grows and grows and grows.

It's a spectacular movement. And it's changing the way we feel about each other.

WILLIAMS: And also attitudes, too, as well. We are trying to eradicate the R word, which is one of our big focuses now. And I think she was very important, in terms of bringing that to the light and the emotions of our athletes.

BLITZER: Tell our viewers in the United States, Scott, and around the world, how they can get involved.

HAMILTON: There's local Special Olympics chapters everywhere, There's a million ways to participate. You can volunteer. You can contribute cash. You can do whatever you can to help drive the movement.

It is a rapidly-growing movement. They need financial resource, obviously. You know, they're servicing more athletes than ever before. And to be a part of it, in any way, shape or form, again, as a volunteer, it's an extraordinary experience.

BLITZER: Give me a final thought, Vanessa.

WILLIAMS: Well, there's an amazing website that just went up. That's, which talks about her legacy, and shows family pictures, and shows how dynamic this woman was. She changed the world and I think we'll miss her smile.

We just recently saw her the last time, right before the inauguration, and she was sitting by the fireside, covered in her Cashmere blanket. And that's how I'll always remember her, with a gigantic smile. Always welcoming.

BLITZER: She was a remarkable woman. I met her on a few occasions. And I think I speak for all of us, our deepest condolences to the family. A great woman, indeed.

That's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer, sitting in for Larry King. Up next, John Roberts, sitting in for Anderson Cooper.