Saturday, November 19, 2005

Dr. Coburn denied non-profit medical practice

"Senator Tom Coburn, the freshman Republican who is a family practice doctor from Oklahoma, lost a long-running battle with Senate ethics officials Thursday night when his colleagues refused to make an exception to Senate rules to allow him to receive outside income from his medical practice.

"The special exception, intended to allow Mr. Coburn to see patients without making a profit, failed on a procedural maneuver that received 51 votes, 9 short of the 60 required for the Senate to take up the measure. Mr. Coburn said he would press for a formal change to the Senate rules.

"'Fifty-one votes is a great moral victory for me,' Mr. Coburn said, 'and I'm not going to quit.'

"Mr. Coburn, a general practitioner who specializes in allergy care and delivering babies, says he 'delivered 400 babies in six years' while serving in the House, from 1995 to 2001. But shortly after his election to the Senate in November 2004, he said, he was informed by the Senate ethics committee that he would have to give up his medical practice because of a ban on senators receiving outside income.

"He said he has been continuing to see patients part-time, paying his malpractice insurance and other expenses out of his own pocket. He has also fought the ethics panel, enlisting the support of a number of colleagues, including Senator Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican and chairman of the Rules Committee, who sponsored the special exception that was considered Thursday night." ...

"Mr. Coburn, who has vowed to serve no more than two Senate terms, must keep his medical skills current so he can go back to being a doctor full time when he leaves Washington."

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