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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Nation Divided Over Health Care
Aired August 18, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the debate over health care reform rages, as thousands of Americans stand in line for hours -- even days -- seeking medical services they can't afford. There are more angry questions about why health care costs so much and what Washington should do about it.
Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean squares off with former GOP Senate Majority Leader Bill First. They're both doctors and they have very different prescriptions for curing our ailing health care system.
And then later, Michael Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, finally breaks his silence.
Why is he speaking out now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S PHYSICIAN: I told the truth and I have faith the truth will prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What could this videotape message mean for the investigation and Dr. Murray's role, possibly, in it?
All that and more next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Well, everyone talks about the weather, no one does anything about it. That's an old Mark Twain statement. Right now, that weather is affecting our signal in Vermont, because of those weather storms up along the East Coast. So we'll check in with Howard Dean in a moment.
Joining us right away from Nashville is former Senator Bill Frist, professor of medicine and business at Vanderbilt, former Senate majority leader, a heart transplant surgeon. And a new book his -- of his coming out in October, "A Heart To Serve: A Passion To Bring Health, Hope and Healing," due in October.
A key area, Senator, in the health care debate is the so-called public option. Sunday on CNN, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said it was not essential. Today, she's totally behind it.
Now let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: Here's the bottom line -- absolutely nothing has changed. We continue to support the public options that will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest. If people have other ideas about how to accomplish these goals, we'll look at those, too. But the public option is a very good way to do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Senator Frist, do you like the public option or not?
BILL FRIST, FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE & BUSINESS, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Larry, I don't think it's necessary. The public option, if you look at it very simply, is a single payer system that is nationalized. And I think that what it does, it crowds out a lot of the innovation, a lot of the creativity, a lot of the change that we know is necessary to keep up with the biological systems that we have to treat, the health care prevention through wellness.
KING: Doesn't it force the other insurance companies, though, to reduce costs when the government is one of their computers?
FRIST: Well, you know, that's what the line is. And if you pay -- the public plan over the national plan, a single payer plan, would pay physicians less, would pay hospitals less, by definition. And the real fear -- and I think it would happen because we saw it happen, actually, through a very similar plan here in Tennessee, is that it causes the employer-sponsored insurance industry to diminish because all of those people on those more expensive plans get dumped onto the private plan.
Over a period of time, that -- or the public plan. That public plan, over a period of time, continues to grow and grow and grow. The private insurance diminishes. And it's in the private insurance market that we see all the innovation and the choice.
And then you end up with a single payer national plan that people simply don't have the choice that they would otherwise.
KING: But we, also, Senator, obviously, there's something wrong if 48 million people aren't insured, if -- if all other major civilized countries have some sort of national health insurance and we don't.
Do you think, philosophically, that we're entitled to health?
FRIST: I do. And I think that the time has come, in a nation that is as rich as ours, that everybody is entitled to affordable access of some kind of health insurance policy.
You said we have 48 million people uninsured. We have about 20 million people who are hard core uninsured today. And I think, in the 21st century, in the United States of America, now is the time to bring them into the insurance market and then focus on having to -- how to make those insurance markets work -- have more competition, more transparency, more choice, because you're right. We have huge health care problems today.
But the real answer, to me, is not more public health, not more single payer, not more national health, but more transparency, where you can empower consumers to make choices for what is best for them and then address the uninsured issue -- the 20 million hard core.
But you don't have to do what President Obama has promised people in the past, and that is to give all 46 million people...
KING: All right...
FRIST: ...a very expensive health care plan, like the president has or a United States senator has.
KING: But you are not, as some are -- on the left are charging -- saying that the Republicans just don't want health care reform?
FRIST: No. Listen, I was majority leader of the United States Senate. And under our leadership, under Republican leadership and working with President Bush, we passed about a $600 billion health care plan that gave affordable access to prescription drugs to 40 million seniors under Medicare who didn't have it.
So, no, I am hard-charging for reform, but I want to do it in a smarter way, with smarter purchasing, more choice, instead of having centralized bureaucratic control coming from the top. Come back to the doctor.
FRIST: Come back to the patient.
KING: Moments ago, Senator, Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts wrapped up a town hall meeting on health care in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Watch this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAUREEN: Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy, as Obama has expressly supported this policy?
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Maureen...
MAUREEN: Why are you supporting it?
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Let me...
FRANK: Wait, I will...
FRANK: When you asked me that question, I am going to revert to my ethnic heritage and answer your question with a question -- on what planet do you spend most of your time?
FRANK: Do you want me to answer the question?
FRANK: Yes. As you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, my answer to you is, as I said, before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated.
FRANK: And trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We are now connected with Governor Dean.
You can see a lot of this occurring across the country and comparing the president to Hitler and conceptions like that.
How did it get to this, Howard?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Look, I think this is very complicated.
And do you really want to talk about this or do you want to talk about health care?
I'm happy to talk about this (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: No, I do. But I did...
KING: But health care has come under this kind of concept that (INAUDIBLE)...
DEAN: Well, this has nothing to do with health care, Larry. This has nothing to do with health care. This is a group of very angry, frustrated people, well organized. This has been -- this kind of anger politics has been going on for -- been going on for 30 years.
Look, we've had a huge shift in this country as a result of this past election and for the first time, more than -- more people who are under the age of 35 voted than over the age of 65. And there are a lot of people who are kind of feeling adrift of that. They're in a big recession, which they didn't cause, and they're very angry about that.
So this is a much bigger deal than health care, all this kind of mass anger...
KING: All right...
DEAN: And it really doesn't have a lot to do with health care.
KING: Have you -- have you been listening -- and I know we had a bad connection, but -- we couldn't make a connection because of the weather.
DEAN: I -- I could hear everything.
KING: Have you heard?
DEAN: I have heard everything Bill said.
KING: What are your comments on what...
DEAN: Well, I (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: What are your comments on what he said?
DEAN: Well, first of all, I always enjoy Bill, because he doesn't exaggerate. He doesn't give the party line so much as some of the other folks I get on the show. And so, Bill, it's great to be on with you again.
I think that's true, the public option is a form of nationalized, government-run health care. That's what Medicare is. We already have 50 million people in the Medicare system. We have a Veterans Affairs system which is very, very good. And so that we already have nationalized care.
There's already another group of people, of which Senator Frist was one, Congress has a socialized health care. If you get sick, you can go downstairs to the doctor. You can go to Walter Reid Hospital. That's all government run.
The question is here, who's going to choose?
My question is, why can't we, given the successes of this national health care system, why can't we let more Americans make their own choices?
The truth is not very many people will actually choose the public option. Now, Senator Frist talked about that Medicare Part D, which has been very successful. Only 6 percent choose the public option there.
But to have the public option, if you can't get into an insurance company; if they cut you off, as, unfortunately, so many of them do, if you get sick; if you move; if you lose your job; the public option is always there. Another wonderful thing about Medicare, they don't charge you any differently whether you're healthy or sick. Those are the things... KING: All right. Hold on.
DEAN: That's the way -- that's the way a health insurance system should be.
KING: Hold on, Howard.
We're going to...
KING: Let me let Senator Frist respond.
We'll be back right away.
KING: All right. Senator Frist, is Governor Dean right?
Haven't a lot of these federal programs worked?
FRIST: Well, Larry, he said Medicare. Medicare, I think, overall, has worked pretty well. It's a -- I think it's -- it's a great program. And as a physician, obviously, I've had thousands of patients who are in it.
He didn't mention the Indian Health Services, though, which is probably the most miserable -- one of the most miserable, under supported, inadequate -- inadequately managed programs and it's a federal health program. Or Medicaid, which has about 35 million people and it's a federal government -- it is a federal government program that is a federal state program. And he didn't mention that, where physicians are getting paid 20 percent less what they are in the private sector.
In a state like Tennessee, people flee from Medicaid. Only about 40 percent of the physicians in the Tennessee have stayed in the program because they are underpaid. And the ones that do stay...
DEAN: But, Bill, I don't -- I don't mean to interrupt, but, in fairness, every child in -- essentially, every child in Vermont has health insurance because of -- because of Medicaid. So it's allowed...
FRIST: I'm just -- yes.
DEAN: ...that changes from state to state.
FRIST: No, it's very good. But we -- and I don't think you would want Medicaid to be the program throughout the country today.
DEAN: Well, we raised...
(CROSSTALK) DEAN: What we did was we raised reimbursement rates, you're right about that.
FRIST: And that's...
DEAN: In order to make it work for us...
FRIST: And that's what happened...
DEAN: ...we raised reimbursement rates.
FRIST: And that's what happened in Tennessee in 1994. We put a universal coverage program in called TennCare. And, Howard, you're familiar with it. And...
FRIST: And we extended coverage. It worked great for about three years. But after about four or five years, the cost went exactly what you said -- you had to start escalating it. And it ended up, eight years later, costing three times -- both per capita and at the state level and just about drove the state bankrupt -- an experiment that didn't work in Tennessee -- 140,000 people were taken off the rolls a year ago by a Democratic governor because it failed.
And America doesn't want to have an experiment that failed in Tennessee to be taken nationally. And that's what (INAUDIBLE)...
DEAN: But we're not talking about that.
DEAN: Bill, we're not talking about that.
FRIST: This is a government program...
DEAN: We're talking about using...
FRIST: This is a government program -- no, you're -- you're choosing...
KING: Let him -- let him speak.
KING: Governor, let him talk.
DEAN: We've had it for 45 years.
KING: I mean Senator, let him talk.
FRIST: You clearly believe that the federal government is the answer and you used Medicare, which it is a good program...
DEAN: No, I...
FRIST: But I'm saying you don't mention the Indian Health Services.
DEAN: I don't think...
FRIST: You don't mention Medicaid and you don't mention (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: All right. Let him respond.
DEAN: I don't...
KING: Senator, let him respond.
DEAN: I don't think the federal government is necessarily the answer. I think the American people are the answer. I think if you put two choices out there, the private sector and the public sector, and let the American people choose, they'll reform health care as they see fit.
If the public sector program is no good, they won't use it, just as they haven't used it very much in Part D in Medicare.
If it's great, the insurance companies are going to have to start behaving themselves and not cutting people off and doing all these terrible things they do to people.
DEAN: Let the American people choose. I think the American people deserve to have this choice.
FRIST: But if you let the (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: All right, gentlemen -- gentlemen, I'm sorry. We have limited time. We're going to do a lot more with both of you.
A quick question for each.
Are we going to get a program passed, Howard?
DEAN: Yes. A public option will be included in the final program. It will be up to the American people to choose whether they want it or not and the president will sign it in December.
FRIST: And I agree (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: Senator, are we going to get a plan?
FRIST: We will have a plan passed in November. It will be about $800 billion. It will insure about 20 million more people. It won't cover everybody. It will have a public plan -- not Howard's type -- as a backup plan, as a fall-back option...
FRIST: (INAUDIBLE) a cooperative type plan.
KING: Off the topic, one quick question, Senator, before we leave. We understand from our crack staff that you took advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program. We understand you traded a 1991 Chevy Suburban for a 2009 Prius.
FRIST: And in Tenn...
KING: True or false?
FRIST: And in Tennessee, the Prius is, for a Republican -- you don't see a lot of Republicans driving a Prius. But I'm going to get 50 miles to the gallon. My -- my 18-year-old Suburban is going to have that -- that junk put in it which is going to kill it. So I'm very sad. But the taxpayer gave me $6,000 to do it and so I'm out there driving my Prius.
DEAN: And as a good governor, I'm about to do the...
KING: Thank you both.
DEAN: I'm about to do the same, but I'm going to get a Ford Escape because I like to buy American.
FRIST: You got me there.
KING: Howard Dean and Bill First going at it. Thank you both very much.
Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. will be live from a town hall meeting in Chicago next.
KING: We'll go now to the town hall meeting in Chicago with Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Democrat of Illinois. He's just wrapped up that meeting.
Congressman, your spokesman, Ken Edmonds, said you were going into this meeting expecting the best, prepared for the worst.
What did you get?
REP. JESSE JACKSON, JR. (D), ILLINOIS: A civilized crowd, as is the people of the Second Congressional District on the South Side of Chicago. It was a thoughtful conversation about -- about health care for all Americans. There was broad-based support for the president's plan -- broad-based support for President Barack Obama's public option. And they want the president of the United States to remain firm on the question of the public option as the only method to take private insurers and bring down costs and help save the system and provide options for the American people.
KING: Congressman, if it didn't have that option, would you vote against it in the House?
JACKSON: A hundred and sixty members of Congress have already signed a letter indicating that without a strong public option, from their perspective, including my signature, that this bill is a non- starter. I mean, the idea that 47 million Americans have no form of health insurance whatsoever and the idea that we would create a public option to help bring down costs is something that should be broadly accepted by the American people.
It is a market-based plan. It is a market-based solution. It's not socialized medicine.
Look at it this way, Larry. There's Federal Express, there's UPS and there's DHL. The public option is a stamp. It's e-mail. And because of the e-mail system and because of the post office, it keeps DHL from charging $100 for an overnight letter or UPS from charging $100 for an overnight letter.
Because of the public option, some of us don't have a problem buying a stamp rather than going that route. But without the public option, in terms of health care, we will continue the same system that leaves 47 million Americans uncovered.
KING: Is -- is the president working the House enough?
Is he working Congress enough?
JACKSON: Well, what I think the president has set out to do -- and I hope he will continue to do -- is to build a more perfect union for all Americans. And that's a very difficult concept. No one said that the concept profit building a more perfect union would be easy.
All citizens should enjoy the right to health care of equal high quality. He needs to stay right there. There should be no difference between a homeless person and someone who's working or someone who's affluent and someone who's in between their jobs. Everyone deserves a health care of equal high quality. And H.R. 3200 is the first step in that direction. It will not be the end of this debate, but it is a significant step in the right direction.
KING: And are we going to get a new law by the end of November?
JACKSON: Well, that's our hope. This has been a very difficult August for members of Congress. And so I'm sure many of them will be coming back to Washington having heard from their constituents, in more ways than, I'm sure, many of them wanted to hear during the summer recess. And I hope that they will bring some of those thoughtful moments and some of that thoughtful impact from their constituents back to, ultimately, a piece of legislation that will be broad, that will cover every American and will put some parts of this debate behind us once and for all.
What I do know is that a lot of political capital by the president, the administration, by the Congress, has been spent on this debate. And what we cannot do is have a bill that leaves Congress that does not cover everyone. We should put this debate behind us once and for all.
KING: Thanks, Jesse.
We'll be calling on you again. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. At a town hall in Chicago.
Three more doctors coming. Congressman Ron Paul -- he's a doctor; Dr. Paul Song, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, write their prescriptions for health care next.
KING: Since most of tonight is devoted to medicine, we want to remind you that Friday night a major program -- the full hour dealing with prostate cancer. And among the guests will be Colin Powell and Michael Milton. That's Friday night, one hour devoted to prostate cancer.
Three more doctors join us. In Clute, Texas, Congressman Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, medical doctor. By the way, he was a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force and an OB-GYN in private practice.
Here in L.A. Dr. Paul Song, radiation oncologist. He supports the president's health care initiative and believes there must be a public option.
And in Atlanta, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent and a practicing neurosurgeon.
How will this debate about public access and the like affect you?
Your public -- will a public option affect you -- Sanjay?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, probably not. And, in fact, the president's come out and said that people who have private insurance right now, who have access to private insurance and who -- whose premiums are not above a certain percentage, overall, of their income, aren't going to be eligible for the public option.
So there's a lot of people who it won't affect. And I think that's really important, Larry, because there was all these -- this sort of talk about people sort of flooding the public option. Not everyone is going to qualify, myself included; you, as well, Larry.
Dr. Song, you favor it, do you not? DR. PAUL SONG, RADIATION ONCOLOGIST, SUPPORTS HEALTH CARE REFORM BUT WANTS PUBLIC OPTION IN FINAL PLAN: Yes. And I think the big reason is that Milton Friedman, who is an economist that a lot of the conservatives like to quote, in 2001, had an essay that basically said that the third payer system that we have right now was the most cost ineffective system that was available.
But since that time, the insurance companies continue to grow. Their -- their overall profits have increased by over 400 percent. And the premiums have raised by greater than 87 percent during that time.
And I think the big concern is that if we don't have a public option, all you're doing is putting more money into this system that will basically go to the insurance companies without any regulation for patients.
KING: Congressman Paul, if you agree something's wrong and you don't like public option, what do you like?
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), MEDICAL DOCTOR, WAS FLIGHT SURGEON IN THE U.S. AIR FORCE, RAN FOR PRESIDENT: Well, I'd like to see a little bit more freedom. Most of the time people do say there's problems and nobody's denying that. But, you know, the problem is that we've had managed care -- we've had government manipulation of medical care for 40 years now. And so we can hardly say it's the private sector that has caused the trouble.
So I would like to see renewal of the spirit of freedom in this country, where we can trust the market, but not trust the government, because the government doesn't deliver. They've had Medicare. It's broke. They have veterans care. It's a lousy system. Nobody likes that. People aren't taken care of.
But what do we do?
KING: Do you...
PAUL: We have rejected the notion of, say, the church hospital. We've wiped them out of the business. We have Shriner Hospitals, 22 of them, that gives free care to all children. And they are having a trouble because of the inflation, because of the cost.
KING: Do you...
PAUL: So I think our biggest failure in this debate is we have not analyzed where the problems came from, rather than just saying let's go on with more government.
KING: Before I get back to Dr. Gupta, do you want to respond, Doctor?
SONG: Yes, I have a lot of respect for Dr. Paul. But one of the things that I think he's saying is incorrect. The idea that the V.A. system and, also, Medicare being failures or not being popular are absolutely false. The Rand Corporation, which is actually a conservative think tank, recently published a study that showed excellent satisfaction with the V.A. system and the Kaiser Family Foundation actually showed that Medicare is actually run more efficiently with much more dollars going for actual patient care than the private sector.
So -- and the other thing I want to touch on is this idea of freedom. We have less freedom when you are told by an insurance company where to go, where to get your pay -- treatment, where -- what hospital you need to get seen at. Some patients need to drive extra distances because their insurance companies won't let them go to the hospital that's in their own neighborhood.
If you had some sort -- type of single payer system, patients would be free to go wherever they wanted.
And I would also add, if you're really concerned about freedom, that if you're an employee who is stuck in a job that you don't like but you're there strictly because of the health benefits, if you had some sort of universal system, you could go to take a job anywhere you wanted.
KING: Dr. Paul, before we get to Sanjay, what do you think of the co-op idea?
PAUL: Well, if it's private, it's OK. But a government-mandated co-op won't work.
But the doctor mis -- misinterpreted what I said, because he didn't accept the fact that we've had managed government care.
So if he says it's -- it's not doing well, then you have to blame managed care, the tax code, tort law, how -- how well people can sell insurance across the borders and the inflationary problem...
KING: And you...
PAUL: And I did not say that Medicare didn't work, I said it was broke. And you've got to admit that. And here we're putting another program on the government system, the government's broke.
KING: All right...
PAUL: We have $2 trillion worth of debt this year...
PAUL: ...and you think we're going to add this new program and the government -- and the country's grown -- we're bankrupt.
PAUL: We're not being practical at all...
KING: Sanjay where...
PAUL: ...by talking about this.
KING: Sanjay -- Sanjay, where are you in this?
GUPTA: Well, you know, no one's good at controlling costs here. I mean, that's one thing that's an irrefutable fact. Whether it's the private sector or the public sector, you can't hold up any of these sectors and say, look, this is a good example of how to do this right.
And, by the way, it's not just the United States. It's around the world, where health care costs have outstripped -- outpaced, rather, inflation in just about every country in the world.
So this is -- this is something that we're dealing with as a global society, Larry. Whether it's people are using technology more, using more prescription drugs, whether it's chronic disease. You know, we spent over -- almost $150 billion on obesity-related diseases in this country alone.
So, you know, health care is expensive. And I think that that's really at the heart of a lot of this -- how exactly you pay for it, who's going to pay for it, exactly. I think that's where this debate is really centered.
KING: Let me get a break.
Still ahead, by the way, later on, Michael Jackson's doctor speaking out for the first time since his death. But our health care debate continues when we return.
KING: Sanjay, can you briefly explain the co-op idea?
GUPTA: A co-op is not government-run, although it may have some government seed money. It is a non-profit organization that, you know, typically is made up of people who are often members insured, meaning people that want to get health care insurance from a co-op, but also members of the board of the co-op. So they can help determine premiums. They can help determine what sort of services are covered.
The way that a co-op is successful, typically, is that it's based on scale. If you have hundreds of thousands of people involved in a co-op, actually buying into it, you can negotiate prices well and be competitive with the private insurance industry. So, you know, for example, a house mom in Tennessee watching right now, and she's uninsured, she's trying to get herself and her kids in church, she might join a co-op and it could be cheaper than private insurance, if they have a lot of people involved. If they don't, it's hard to compete.
KING: Dr. Song, does that appeal to you?
SONG: I think the problem with that, in my study of this, is that unless you have at least 500,000 people that will form a network, that it's going to be hard to do particularly in rural areas. And what you're seeing more and more in the past seven years is monopolies that have been formed by insurance companies that make it real hard for any type of negotiating power. And premiums have gone up.
So if you can't get 500,000 people together to really put together a good economy of scale, I'm not sure how this will work in large parts of our society.
KING: Congressman Paul, you're there in the House. Where do you think it's going? What are we going to get?
PAUL: A little incrementalism. I don't think Obama's going to get what he wants. But we'll have more government and the cost will continue to go up and the quality of medical care will go down. They put 50 billion dollars in the bill just for surveillance of every single medical transaction. And they have the legislation to control that in Washington.
So there will be no medical transaction that isn't controlled electronically and known by the government for so-called monitoring. So it's going to cost 50 billion dollars to try to find out where the waste and the fraud is, but the system is wasteful and fraudulent.
KING: Sanjay, you look puzzled.
GUPTA: Yes, I was -- I'm not -- I guess I was a little confused as to what specifically Congressman Paul was talking about there. I'm not sure if he's talking about the health IT or what, or if he's saying that's a bad idea. My understanding was that was to try and streamline a lot of the unbelievable paperwork.
You have primary care doctors who are seeing over 5,000 patients in their clinic. Each one of those patients comes with insurance forms and all sorts of other forms. To try to streamline that in some way has been one sort of tactic to try to increase the number of primary care doctors. I was a little confused by what you were talking about.
PAUL: OK, let me tell you. The stimulus package gave the authority to the executive branch to set up a computer system to record every medical transaction in the country. Now they put 50 billion dollars of seed money in there for somebody to monitor everything the hospital does, everything the lab does, everything a doctor does, everything a pharmacy does.
Now that is not going to be efficient. That's going to cost a lot of money, very confusing, and it's going to distort the whole concept. But when the government's in charge, and they want this one- payer system, this is socialized medicine. It doesn't work. It fails all the time. Some people may get care for a while, but eventually everybody's going to get equal care. But quality is going to go down. That's what it's all about.
KING: But you're not -- we don't have the best care now, do we, Dr. Song?
SONG: No, I would argue that no one agrees -- we can all agree that the current system is absolutely broken. And as far as the track record of how government programs work, I think Medicare has been in business for 45 years. My own father who was --
PAUL: But they're broke.
SONG: -- diagnosed with cancer is able to get access to care on a much more timely fashion than my own patients who are coming to me, who have private insurance.
KING: All right, tell you what, guys, we're going to have you all back, maybe tomorrow, because this needs a lot more attention than it's getting. And it's getting a lot. By the way, if you don't have insurance and need medical attention, a man helping to provide that care -- and we'll keep the panel for a little while too -- will join us next.
KING: Our panel returned momentarily. Many Americans have been shocked, dismayed during the past week by the sight of thousands of their fellow citizens waiting hours overnight for medical services from a free clinic set up at the Los Angeles forum. The event is the work of Remote Area Medical, a non-profit foundation that's generally focussed on bringing health care to rural America.
Joining us from the site is Stan Brock, the founder of Remote Area Medical. It's a non-profit volunteer airborne relief corps. Known to millions, he is, as the co-host and associate producer of "Wild Kingdom." Stan, how did this come about? What do you do?
STAN BROCK, REMOTE AREA MEDICAL: Well, it's -- the whole idea was born when I lived down in the Amazon, Larry. And I had a very bad accident with a wild horse. And when they were pulling me out from underneath the horse, they said the nearest doctor from here is 26 days on foot. It was about that time that I got the inspiration for trying to bring those doctors just a little bit closer.
KING: And that led to this? So how does this work? What's behind you?
BROCK: Well, you know, I formed this organization to provide care in the other situations around the world. But shortly after we started, I started getting requests to bring care to some of the areas in rural America. And that was many years ago. And it's just sort of grown from there.
And now 64 percent of all of the work that we do is here in the United States. And so we're sort of backing off from some of the places where we really need to be, like in Haiti and Zimbabwe, because of the pressure here from all of the millions of patients that need the care we give free of charge.
KING: And what can Congress learn from this?
BROCK: Well, I think one of the things they need to learn from it is that the greatest impediment to what we do, Larry, is that for some extraordinary reason that I've never been able to understand, a fully qualified and licensed doctor, dentist, nurse, veterinarian in one state is not allowed to cross state lines to provide free care in another state, except in the state of Tennessee, where the law was changed in 1995 to allow it.
So in Tennessee, we get doctors coming from all over the country to help out. Then we came to California, one of the other 49 states that does not allow it. And although we've seen many thousands of patients here, we could've seen twice the number had we brought in forces from outside the state to help.
KING: Stan, we salute you. It's not our hero of the week time, but you are our hero of the week. Thanks for joining us. What do you make of this idea, Dr. Song?
SONG: Well, I think it's a sad statement on our society that we need to set up these free clinics in major cities like Los Angeles, and have lines out the door and people waiting for many, many hours. If you talk about a waiting line, there's a prime example of that.
But I do think that there needs to be a partnership within the private sector and public volunteers to offer this. I don't think it can just be shared just by one aspect of our society.
KING: What do you think, Dr. Paul, Congressman Paul?
PAUL: Well, I disagree. I think it shows the greatness of America. If we had a free society and a prosperous society and no inflation, no wasteful wars that we spend trillions of dollars on, there'd be so much wealth in this country. There'd be thousands of clinics like this. And like I said before, there would be church hospitals. There would be more shrine hospitals. They wouldn't be closing down because of all this government interference and inflation.
Yes, we do have inflation. Just because the CPI isn't going up, the money -- because the government policies channels the money into medical care. That pushes prices up. That doesn't give you more quality care.
KING: Dr. Gupta, what do you think of this?
GUPTA: I've been to several of these places around the world, including Haiti, where RAM, Remote Area Medical, works. It is amazing to see some of those same practices now here in the United States. I'm not sure I completely agree with Congressman Paul on one point, though. And that is that if you leave it to sort of the better -- the goodness of man to try and take care of these problems, I don't know that it has been taken care of. Our private health insurance industry has not -- has created a situation where you have things like this sort of needed, necessary.
So I don't know. You know? It's somewhat hard to imagine that things I saw happening in Haiti are happening right there.
KING: I said it earlier, I'm going to bring you all back because we've just touched the surface. Thank you so much. Ron Paul, Paul Song, Sanjay Gupta, doctors all.
Michael Jackson's doctor speaks for the first time since his death. You'll see it next.
KING: Conrad Murray, the doctor under investigation in the death of Michael Jackson, posted a video on Youtube today. It's the first public comment by Murray since Jackson's death June 25th. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S DOCTOR: I want to thank all of my patients and friends who have sent such kind e-mails, letters and messages, to let me know of your support and prayers for me and my family. Because of all that is going on, I'm afraid to return phone calls or use my e-mail. Therefore, I recorded this video to let all of you know that I have been receiving your messages.
I have not been able to thank you personally, which, as you know, is not normal for me. Your messages give me strength and courage and keep me going. They mean the world to me. Please, don't worry. As long as I keep god in my heart and you in my life, I will be fine.
I have done all I could do. I told the truth. And I have faith the truth will prevail. God bless you. And thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We have a panel assembled to discuss all of this. In Los Angeles here, Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition," also an attorney. In Chicago, Judge Jeanine Pirro, former district attorney and county court judge, host of her own show. And back here in L.A., Mark Geragos, defense attorney, who, by the way, at times represented Michael Jackson.
Quickly, Jim, before we go to a break and then get into the meat of the discussion, what did you make of that?
JIM MORET, "INSIDE EDITION": I don't even understand the point of it. He didn't really say anything. It's clearly a PR move. Mark and I watched it backstage. And we're both trying to figure out what he was trying to accomplish and I don't think he accomplished much.
KING: Judge Pirro, what do you think?
JEANINE PIRRO, FMR. DA AND COUNTY COURT JUDGE: Well, I think what he's doing is he's trying to paint himself as a god-fearing individual; the truth will prevail, set me free. But, by the way, I can't answer your e-mails, because anything I say can and will be used against me. You know, this is just a momentary thing to resolve his stress, his anxiety. This guy is going to face indictment in a matter of a few weeks, I'm sure. And at the end of the day, he's panicked.
KING: Mark? That was funny. What's your read, Geragos? MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, I feel -- I do feel for him. You know, he's in the middle of this storm. And I'm sure he can't understand it all, what's going on around him. And he wants to reach out. He wants to thank people. And I'm sure his lawyers are telling him, rightfully so, you can't talk.
I'm with Jim. Jim accurately portrayed what we were doing in the green room. I don't understand the point of it, but I suppose he wants to thank people and I guess you send a Christmas card.
KING: I'll ask you about this in a minute, since you're all so versed with the law. What was criminal about what he did? We'll continue to discuss -- or supposedly did. We'll discuss this video and details of the burial after the break.
KING: All right, Jim. What did he accomplish?
MORET: Well, he came off very detached. He never even mentioned Michael Jackson, the fact that his client, his patient, his friend died on his watch. We don't know if he gave him drugs, when he gave him drugs, why he didn't call 911 earlier. There were so many questions that weren't answered. I think, in that sense, by coming off detached and making it all about him, he hurts himself.
KING: Judge Jeanine, is it illegal for a doctor to give a patient a legal drug?
PIRRO: You know, there are a lot of issues here. Propofol is not a controlled substance, because it was never anticipated that it would be a drug that might be abused. It is only supposed to be used in a hospital setting. But it is supposed to be used by trained anesthesiologists, by doctors who constantly observe and monitor, which is why it's only supposed to be used in a hospital.
If Conrad Murray was not responsible in his use of Propofol, and Michael Jackson died as a result of it, then you've got a recklessness. You've got a gross disregard for human life. If, as has been reported, he went out to talk on the phone, then they've got him dead to right. That's why what you are seeing tonight on this video or on Youtube is him trying to paint himself in a positive light.
He is detached because I'm sure he is depressed and anxious and suffering from a great deal of panic. He is trying to do what he can. There is very little that can be done now.
KING: On the face of it, Mark, does it look like a good case?
GERAGOS: No. I don't think it is either a good case for the prosecution or a good case for the defense. I can understand how a prosecutor would file this case. Jeanine is right; it is not that the drug is legal or illegal. The drug can be legal. If you administer it in a way that is so dangerous, that, in and of itself, can give rise to either an involuntary manslaughter and, in some cases, a second degree murder.
At the same time, the defense has all kinds of issues that they can raise. They can say A, B, or C; they are going to tear apart Michael and whatever Michael's perceived use of drugs are. They are going to say no way you can say this is what caused his death. They're going to say you have problems with cause and effect.
If that is the case, it is a real horse race. As far as this statement that the doctor puts out, he has been vilified every day. He does look like he is maybe under the influence of Propofol or Diprivan as he's giving this statement. But you can understand why he is. He's been demonized himself.
KING: Is this a bad time for him to sit down, say on LARRY KING LIVE, and do an interview?
GERAGOS: Over my dead body.
MORET: I agree.
GERAGOS: Did you hear Larry's producer in your ear. You are never going to be on the show again.
MORET: The big problem, you had a guest on the show the show, I believe a week or two ago, the chef, who said the doctor normally came down at 9:00, 9:30 with oxygen tanks. He didn't do that on this day. At 12:05, he runs down and screams for Michael's son. We know he didn't call 911 until the 12:22. What happened in those 15 minutes? Was Michael in distress then? Why didn't he call then? What happened?
KING: Judge Jeanine, what do you want to get in here?
PIRRO: But in addition to that, what you've got is a financial motive for this crime. Even though we've got a doctor who took the Hippocratic Oath, who is supposed to take care of people, we have a guy who is 800,000 dollars in debt, was supposed to go to jail twice, this year and two years ago, for child support. We've got a guy whose motive is financial gain, who is in the hole so deep they are sending him to jail left and right because of child support.
There is a reason now that the prosecutor has, that they can attribute to Conrad Murray, saying, this guy didn't care about anything but money. He was making 150,000 dollars a month, which is unheard of. He did what he had to for the money. That's not good.
GERAGOS: Didn't I tell you three weeks ago? Jeanine just gave the opening statement. That is exactly what they are going to say.
KING: We're going to have details. We have burial plans, next.
KING: We finally have burial details. What are they, Jim? MORET: Before answering that, I want to say, after thinking about this, Conrad Murray should come on your show and talk to you.
KING: You want to be back here again?
GERAGOS: You know why? It's because the producer just whispered in his ear, that is the last time he is ever getting on the show.
KING: We forgive. But that's one.
MORET: I just wanted to make it clear. Michael Jackson will be buried on what would have been his 51st birthday, August 29th, at Forest Lawn. Not the cemetery he's at now --
KING: There are two Forest Lawns.
MORET: There are two very close to each other. This particular mausoleum is private. The public cannot readily visit it. It is beautiful. It's got a recreation of Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling. It has a stained glass replica of the Last Supper. It's a beautiful place.
KING: Who chose it?
MORET: The family chose it, as far as I have been told.
KING: Will it be a private funeral?
MORET: Family and close friends.
KING: How many helicopters and tabloids will be circling the field?
MORET: Well, I'm sure reporters from all over the country, if not the world, will be outside the gates waiting.
KING: Judge Jeanine, why do you think it took so long to make this decision?
PIRRO: You hit the nail on the head in the question, Larry. They were trying to make the decision. I'm sure there was a lot of discussion about a more public place, a private place. I think the family came down on the side of making sure Michael was buried in a private, quiet area that the public doesn't have access to.
You can understand that. So much of his life was public. The last few years were very tormented. I think they see this as analogous to maybe a peaceful existence from this point, going forward.
KING: Good idea, Mark?
GERAGOS: Yes, I think so. Better idea than merchandising it or selling the broadcast rights to the funeral.
KING: California wouldn't change the law for Neverland, or he didn't want that?
GERAGOS: I think what he did not do or the family did not do was apply to the county. I think they probably could have gotten over the hurdle of the state fairly easily. The county would have been a problem.
MORET: I think there was a division. I think some people in the family wanted Neverland. You were up there. It's beautiful.
KING: He didn't want it. He never wanted to go back?
MORET: Never did. Not after that trial.
KING: Is this thing ever going to end?
MORET: It will, but not for a while. There are too many questions. We just heard from the doctor. We don't know if there will be charges.
GERAGOS: You have charges potentially that are out there. You've got the tour that is coming up. You've got memorabilia running around.
KING: And the film.
GERAGOS: Custody issues.
KING: Big film. We are going to have the exclusive on that film, by the way, because the people who run it and are putting it together are going to appear on this program to tell you all about it.
MORET: I support that.
KING: They should appear.
Thank you all very much. Before we hand it off to Anderson, a sad note; political commentator Robert Novak, long time member of the CNN family, lost a brave battle with brain cancer early today. Bob was 78 years old, a fierce conservative, a take no prisoners debater. His wife of 47 years, Geraldine, told the Associated Press that he loved being a journalist, loved journalism, loved his country and his family. Also Maryland basketball.
That sums up the Bob Novak we all knew. "Anderson Cooper 360" right now. Anderson?