GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson offered a preview of his plans to reform the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs in an op-ed in USA Today
The retired neurosurgeon said he has seen from the inside the problems veterans face trying to get healthcare during his years as a medical student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and later in Baltimore.
Carson said the Veterans Health Administration, which provides healthcare for the VA, should be eliminated "to forge a 21st century veterans' health care solution."
He promised more details for his plan in coming months, but outlined changes that require immediate action:
- Offer choice, including Health Savings Accounts, to allow veterans to get medical care at nearby DOD, VA or civilian hospitals.
- Allow veterans to use funds even when not near their primary care location.
- Ensure a timely response for disability claims and medical requirements.
- Make specialized care readily available using military and civilian centers for treatment of military-specific post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, severance of limbs and other issues.
- Equip veterans with education, employment, life skills and continuity of health care.
Carson noted that a recent report indicated that 300,000 veterans may have died waiting for medical care, and that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
Carson previously has suggested eliminating
the VA altogether and folding it into the Department of Defense.
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