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CNN Newsroom - Transcript


Location: Unknown

Interviewer: Rick Sanchez

SANCHEZ: This is a thing that's always confused me about this, and it's obviously something you know a lot more about it than I do, both because you're a legislator and a lawmaker and a doctor, which puts you in a unique situation.

And I hate to do this anecdotally, because I'm the biggest guy who criticized people who say, "I knew a guy who went to a clinic once and blah, blah, blah," but so many doctors that I know, I've seen them leave their profession, look for something else to do, go bankrupt, hate their profession.

And they've come to me when we've sat around, because they lived in our neighborhood because we have played golf together, and they said the way the system is set up now, it is horrible for us. We get creamed. Half the time, we can't do what we want to do because some HMO or somebody else is telling us how we have to do things.

And yet I now see commercials being endorsed by organizations that say "Don't change things because then somebody will be telling doctors how and what to do."

SEN. TOM COBURN, (R) OKLAHOMA: They already are.

SANCHEZ: I'm confused.

COBURN: They already are, and that's the frustration with medicine. I have a friend who quit taking all insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. And he is a great internist.

And he now only sees patients, and he gives them a copy of the bill which they can file. He says, "I am practicing far better medicine. I only have one employee. I don't have the frustrations anymore. And my patience are getting better care than they were before because I am not hung back by all this bureaucracy."

So, until you fix the bureaucracy in medicine and until you create transparency about quality and price, which is what he has now, you know when you go into the doctor, what it is going to cost to see him.

What's going to happen...

SANCHEZ: So is there a place -- I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt, sir. Is there a place for the government to step it in and have a role at all, or are you of the mindset that says, we don't want the government involved in this at all?

COBURN: One thing that would help is to take away this antitrust prohibition among the doctors. They can't compete with the insurance agencies, the insurance companies who just want to make money, who say they care about somebody's health.

What you have to do if you are going to do that is you have to have transparency with the physicians, too. They have to be transparent. So, I think there is great hope for us to fix it. I am not sure we're anywhere close to fixing the real problems in medicine.

The thing that worries me about what's going on now is 75 percent of all the innovation in the world in health care comes out of this economy, and it comes out of the 40 percent that's not run by the government right now and managed by the government.

And if you look at any of our government programs -- they are needed. I'm not saying they are not. But they are not effective. They are not efficient. They are highly expensive, and they are fraught with fraud. There is $120 billion a year that goes out the door on Medicaid and Medicare that doesn't help anybody but just gets defrauded.

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