Congress has to make some tough choices to fix the nation's financially crushing litany of entitlements, Dr. Tom Coburn, a former Republican senator from Oklahoma and author of the new book "Smashing the DC Monopoly," told Newsmax TV.
"If you don't do anything [with entitlements] they're going to collapse," Coburn told host Bill Tucker on Wednesday's "America Talks Live."
"Here's the question: I have never met a grandparent that says I want my grandkids to suffer so Medicare won't be changed. It doesn't matter what their political views are. They don't want to live off their grandchildren's future.
"The Congress refuses to make tough choices now so you have to put them in a box so they have to. That's why a balanced budget amendment by itself won't fix this."
And that means limiting the scope, jurisdiction, and power of the federal government and returning it to where the Founding Fathers thought it should be – the state legislatures, Coburn said.
"Under the Constitution, our founders knew where we were going to be at this point," he told Tucker. "That's why Article V and the state's ability to have an amendments convention is in there.
"When you tell somebody 'hey, we can actually fix it,' they're so discouraged, and they're so sick of Washington. And then you say 'here's the way to do it, and here's the way it'll work, and here's what our founders gave us.'
"All we have to have is convince 34 state legislators that we need this . . . and we can fix the financial part, we can fix the overreach and regulation part, and we can fix the careerism part . . . They have to call a convention once we have 34 states."
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Coburn also called on the federal healthcare system to stop treating symptoms and start treating disease.
"That's the first thing," Colburn said. "Some facts: the federal government buys 45 percent of all healthcare. If you're Medicare, they spend an average of $12,000 a year on you. If you're Medicaid, they spend $8,000 a year on you, but if you're a private citizen you spend $5,600," Coburn said.
"The differential between $8,000 and $5,600 is a significant amount of money . . . We're failing in terms of cost, and in education we're failing at outcomes and cost. The way you fix it is you create price transparency in healthcare. You put personal responsibility on the person.
"Right now nobody cares what something costs because they think somebody else is paying the bill. So, we don't have any market forces allocating healthcare, and there's a lot of new things out there that people don't realize."
For example, Coburn said, the Oklahoma Surgical Hospital in Oklahoma City publishes their prices on every surgical procedure.
"They guarantee the outcome," he said. "They pay for the complications if you have one. Their prices are 40 percent of the average in the country. So people are flying in there. Businesses who are self-insured say we'll pay for your ticket. We'll pay for your hotel.
"You go here and get it done, first of all, because they have the best outcomes, and number two is because it's cheaper."
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