20 March 2013
Dr. Ben Carson, in his many public appearances, certainly sounds conservative with his rags-to-riches story and his recent criticism of Obamacare. But does he really want to get rid of private insurers and replace them with the government? What about cradle-to-grave electronic monitoring of medical records? What about his views on end-of-life care?
In several past interviews as well as his recent book America the Beautiful published in 2012, he comes to the same conclusions as those on the left who salivate over the idea of universal health care. Like Obama, he vilifies American insurance companies.
Noticeably absent from Carson's analysis of skyrocketing healthcare costs are Big Pharma and hospitals with their highly-paid executives. Why the focus solely on the health insurance industry?
In a fall 2009 interview with the online Mega Diversities "knowledge by any means necessary" magazine Carson criticizes private insurance companies.
The entire concept of for profits for the insurance companies makes absolutely no sense. " I deny that you need care and I will make more money." This is totally ridiculous. The first thing we need to do is get rid of for profit insurance companies.
We have a lack of policies and we need to make the government responsible for catastrophic healthcare. If insurance companies are responsible only for routine health care, you are able to predict how much money they are going to need, and this facilitates regulations."
In 2009 Carson called for more regulation of an industry already heavily regulated and for increased government control over our healthcare needs. But he went even farther in 2012. In fact, he sounds like President Obama just a couple of weeks before he signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Obama said this in 2010:
Health Insurers will keep on doing this for as long as they can get away with it. This is no secret... They're telling their investors this -- 'We are in the money. We are going to keep on making big profits even though a lot of folks are going to be put under hardship."
Carson agrees with Obama. In America the Beautiful he suggests a "fairer," uniform compensation system for doctors and healthcare providers. Prices will not be set by insurance companies whom he believes "make more money by elbowing their way in as the middle man and confiscating as much of the transaction between patient and caregiver as they can."
Who will decide? Carson says we need "government regulators... to establish fair and consistent remunerations throughout the country." In addition to more regulation "all bills" should be "submitted electronically into one common computer system" -- this will generate "instant payments" from insurance companies.
In demonizing health insurance companies who would soon be out of business under his plan, he fails to mention the benefit to the data collection industry. David W. Bower, CEO of Maryland-Based Data Computer Collection of America (DCCA), serves on the board of Dr. Carson's nonprofit Carson Scholars Fund. In 2011 Bower contributed $10,000 to Obama's campaign and in November of the same year landed a $15 million contract with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
According to Carson, all health insurance companies should eventually become non-profit service organizations with "standardized, regulated profit margins." "It may sound radical," he says, "but is it as radical as allowing a company to increase its profits by denying care to a sick individual."
In America the Beautiful Carson also repeats his 2009 call for government to be responsible for catastrophic insurance. How does he intend to pay for this?
"Allow insurance companies a 15% annual profit, 5 percent of which would go to the government's national catastrophic health care fund."
Then Carson, who's a member of the quasi-government agency Institute of Medicine (IOM) explains how making the government dole out catastrophic health insurance will free us up to assess end-of-life costs. It should be remembered IOM is behind a plethora of end-of-life studies funded by the far left Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Since the government would now have the responsibility of paying for catastrophic health care, we as a society would be forced to examine the policies that have led to a situation in which 40-50% of all healthcare dollars are spent during the last six months of a person's life.
Carson goes on to admonish Americans who don't get that "death is not optional" and that it is "perfectly reasonable to send patients to hospices." Maybe. But is he suggesting it's reasonable that a government bureaucrat makes that decision? Carson anticipated the question.
Again, I can hear some people screaming after reading this that I am advocating "death panels."
Some people like to put forth terms like this because they stir up emotional responses rather than encouraging people to engage in rational dialogue.
Is he talking about Sarah Palin? Who are the "some people?"
Carson also believes "age should not be the determining factor of the kind of care that should be given. Rather we should consider a person's potential for quality long-term survival." Who is Carson talking about when he uses the word "we?"
Throughout America the Beautiful, which is now on the paperback bestseller list, Carson advocates for certain aspects of socialism.
He writes, "Admitting there are beneficial aspects of socialism, however, does not obligate us to completely reorient our nation's economic system;" and in another statement writes, "It is possible, however, to extract socialism's positive aspects and actually implement them within capitalism."
But the doctor's book and ideas don't sound like the same man on stage this past Saturday at CPAC. Carson wowed the audience warning them of the dangers of state-sponsored healthcare:"If the government can control that, they can control just about everything." He also brought up Health Savings Accounts for routine care while advocating for catastrophic insurance as a separate policy. Did he decide not to mention who would be in charge of catastrophic insurance which often involves cutting edge end-of-life procedures?
As a brilliant, faith-filled individual Carson seems like the real deal. His bootstrap story is uniquely American and throughout his book he interweaves Scripture, the founding fathers and constitutional principles. But it looks like we need more clarification of the famous surgeon's intentions for healthcare reform before we "magically put [him] in the White House?"