Congressman Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, must have thought he would get a softball interview when the Congressman agreed to go on CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s program to discuss how he would like to see a doctor in his district penalized over a politically charged sign hanging on the front door of the doctor’s office. Surprisingly, Mr. Cooper appeared critical of Mr. Grayson’s position. (Video and transcript below)
ANDERSON COOPER: Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson — a woman whose daughter took a picture of the sign sent it to the Congressman complaining. He’s filing a formal complaint with the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Medical Board. Congressman Grayson joins us now.
Does it make sense what the doctor is saying? I mean, he’s claiming he’s not turning any patients away.
REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: He’s a very confused individual, that much is obvious. But what he’s doing clearly is a violation of the ethics rules that you cited earlier, the Hippocratic Oath, the rules of the AMA and it’s at the expense of his patients in care.
What he is doing is no different from saying I will not treat a black person, I will not treat a Catholic.
COOPER: But wait, wait, wait a minute. I mean, I’m not taking a side, I’m not taking anybody’s side in this, but just for accuracy’s sake, he had said nothing about race and race is a protected category, I mean, there are — it’s illegal to discriminate someone based on race, but it’s not illegal to say you don’t want to treat somebody because you don’t like their politics. Politics is not a protected class.
GRAYSON: Well, in fact, where he lives in Mount Dora (ph) which is in my district many, many of the Democrats who live in Mount Dora (ph) happen to be African-Americans. So by saying that he will not treat somebody who supported Obama, he’s saying that he’s not going to treat a large number of African-Americans in this community.
COOPER: But — so you’re saying race is at the core of that? Come on there is no evidence of that all.
GRAYSON: No, I’m saying — I’m saying that it shows poor judgment. And the effect — the effect of this will set us back as a country. That’s why I’m disgusted by it.
COOPER: But again, he’s not doing anything illegal.
GRAYSON: Well, that remains to be seen. He is licensed. There are licensing authorities who are going to look into what he’s doing. And I hope that they’ll take action because frankly I think a lot of people are disturbed just to go into his office.
He’s turned his inner office, his reception area into some shrine of right wing nuttery (ph). And he said earlier today on Fox News that he’s upset about the health care bill because it means that old people won’t be able to go to nursing homes anymore.
COOPER: To critics of you, though, will say, well, look, this comes across as a partisan attack, that you’re using the legal system or the medical ethics system to pressure someone who doesn’t agree with you.
GRAYSON: Well, that’s not true.
COOPER: I mean, if this was an Obama supporter —
COOPER: — who put up a sign saying I don’t like Republicans and Republicans should go elsewhere, would you be as outraged?
GRAYSON: I’m protecting the people in my district who deserve medical care even if they happen to have voted for Obama.
COOPER: Nobody, though, seems to be alleging that he treats any of his patients any differently based on what they believe. I mean, so far no one has said that their care has suffered because they were an Obama supporter.
GRAYSON: How many people walked in — walked up to his front door, saw the sign and turned away? How many people referred from other physicians in the community, including primary care physicians, how many patients saw that sign and walked away?
COOPER: What kind of penalty do you think he should get?
GRAYSON: Well, whatever the medical authorities think he should get. But it’s a clear violation of ethics. And it’s a particularly ugly one. Why is it that the right wing is so preoccupied with denying people health? Why is that?
COOPER: Representative Alan Grayson, I appreciate you being on for your perspective. Thank you very much.
GRAYSON: Thank you.