Tags: America's Forum | Exclusive Interviews | Ben Carson | VA | healthcare | veterans

Ben Carson: Most VA Patients Could Be Put in Private Care

By Sean Piccoli   |   Friday, 30 May 2014 03:37 PM

Renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson said Friday that the resignation of Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, while "not unexpected," doesn't solve "the systemic problem of bureaucracy" plaguing government-run healthcare for U.S. armed service members.

"I've worked in VA hospitals, and there are wonderful, dedicated people there — outstanding people," Carson told "America's Forum" hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on Newsmax TV. "But the problem is there are so many layers of bureaucrats between the patient and those outstanding people that it creates untold inefficiency."

The VA's mammoth network of military hospitals is staggering under months-long treatment delays for ailing veterans — some of whom have died before getting an appointment — and allegations that supervisors concealed the backlogs at some facilities.

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Carson did not retreat from an earlier comment that the VA scandal was a "gift from God," despite criticism from one prominent D.C. pundit.

"As I mentioned last week, I thought what happened with the VA was a gift to us because it gives us an opportunity to see what happens when you have these gigantic government programs administering healthcare," Carson said.

Carson downplayed lower pay for VA doctors, as compared to those in private practice, as a factor in the VA's woes. But he reiterated his view that the VA's bureaucratic breakdowns point to future problems for Obamacare.

"We have plenty of money, or at least we put plenty of money into the healthcare system — twice as much per capita as anybody else — and yet we have terrible access problems, horrible inefficiency, a lot of corruption, and waste," he said.

Carson also said that with few exceptions — areas of specialty such as treatment of spinal injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — VA care could be rerouted to private hospitals.

"We shouldn't probably throw the baby out with the bath water, but 90-plus percent of veterans could easily be taken care of in the private sector with vouchers and have a much higher quality of life because they won't have to travel all over the place trying to get their care," Carson said.

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