As we already discussed here, GOP presidential candidate and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson told Politico that he wants to replace Medicare and Medicaid with cradle-to-grave health savings accounts.
When asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace if he really wants to put an end to Medicare, Carson stammered and stuttered his way through the interview and tried to pretend that's not what he wants to do, even though we all know that would be the end result if you move the funds from one program to the other.
Here's more from The Hill on Carson's train wreck of an interview on Fox: Ben Carson says he won't end Medicare:
Republican Ben Carson on Sunday rejected the notion that he will end Medicare if he is elected president.
"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked Carson if his plan was to end the program, which serves 49 million senior citizens.
“That’s completely false, Carson said. “That’s a narrative someone’s putting out there to scare people.”
Carson said the program he’s outlined uses health savings accounts starting from the time a person is born until their death to largely eliminate the needs for people to be dependent on government programs.
“I would never get rid of the programs,” he said. “I would provide people with an alternative and I think they will see the alternative we’re going to outline is so much better than anything else.”
Wallace pushed Carson on what appeared to be a policy change, asking him if people will have a choice between health savings accounts and the traditional Medicare
“I do not believe in imposing things on people,” Carson said. “I believe in presenting things that are so attractive that people will quickly migrate to them.”
It's pretty bad when even a host on Fox isn't buying the B.S. you're shoveling. Wallace pushed and pushed Carson on where the money would come from for his program, and Carson either doesn't even understand what his own health care proposal would do, or he's just lying through his teeth.
UPDATE: Here's the full transcript from Fox. The longer Carson keeps talking, the worse it gets.
WALLACE: Well, let me pick up on that, because, obviously, as you rise in the polls, your policies, you plans attract new attention, especially your plan to end Medicare, which serves 49 million senior citizens, and Medicaid, which serves 72 million low-income Americans.
Before we get into your plan, let me make sure I’ve got this right. Dr. Carson, you would end Medicare?
CARSON: No, that's completely false. And that's a narrative that somebody's putting out there to scare people.
What the program that I have outlined using health savings accounts starting from the time you are born until the time you die, largely eliminates the need for people to be dependent on government programs like that. But I would never get rid of the programs. I would provide people with an alternative. I think they will see that the alternative that we're going to outline is so much better than anything else that they will flock to it.
WALLACE: Well, I -- let me make sure I got this right, because this seems to me to be a bit of a change.
So, you’re saying that you would have a choice. You could either do health savings accounts or you could have the traditional Medicare?
CARSON: Oh, yes, I do not believe in imposing things upon people. I believe in presenting things that are so attractive that people will very quickly migrate to them.
WALLACE: But here's the concern a lot of people have about this plan. You would give the same $2,000 a year to every individual whether it's a low-income --
WALLACE: -- sick person.
WALLACE: Well, that's what you were saying, sir.
CARSON: No, that -- that's the old plan. That's been gone for several months now. The plan now for funding health savings accounts is using the same dollars that we use for traditional health care. We already spend twice as much per capita on health care as many other countries in the world. Utilizing that money, the place where the government would come in is with the indigent because that's where Medicaid comes in. The Medicaid budget is $400 billion to $500 billion a year and we have 80 million people who participate, which is way too many and we can fix that by fixing the economy.
WALLACE: So, how does the health savings account work if there's no government subsidy?
CARSON: Well, let me just tell you. I’m telling you right now, with the indigent people, 80 million into $400 billion goes 5,000 times -- $5,000 each man, woman and child. What could you buy with that? A concierge practice generally costs $2,000 to $3,000 a year. And you still have a couple thousand dollars left over for catastrophic insurance, which is much cheaper now because the only thing coming out of it is catastrophic insurance.
WALLACE: So, what about --
CARSON: Everything else is going to come out of your health savings account. So --
WALLACE: How do you get the money for your health savings account? I’m not talking about Medicaid, I’m talking about Medicare, because you used to say you were going to end Medicare and have a $2,000 government fee to every individual, man, woman and child.
CARSON: That's gone. That is off the table. We're not having the government do that. I don't want a big government program.
You know, I’ve -- the one thing about me, I'll tell you something. I’m not a politician. So I don't say that because I thought this a while ago before I had an opportunity to talk to a lot of economists and various people and cost it out that I can't change my mind.
One of the things that's very important about our country, we have a lot of incredibly smart people with a lot of experience doing things. I listen to that. When I’m out on the road, I listen to people have to say --
WALLACE: But, sir, I’m a little --
CARSON: -- because how can you have a representative government --
WALLACE: Let me -- don't mean to interrupt, but I’m a little bit confused. So, if I’m a regular person, I’m not indigent and I -- you're going to give me a health savings account, but you're not going to give me any money, why wouldn't I want Medicare? What's the advantage of the health savings account?
CARSON: Well, remember, you already if you're a regular person have a job. And they're already giving you some health benefits. So, instead of that money going into the inefficient system that it goes in now, it gets divided and divvied up into your family's health savings account over which you now have control and to which you can contribute anything you want. That's the difference.
WALLACE: But isn't that the --
CARSON: That money -- that money is already there.
WALLACE: Doesn't that mean there's going to be government money going into my health savings account?
CARSON: If there's already government money going into it, it certainly could, absolutely.
WALLACE: And would that be $2,000?
CARSON: But not -- but not new government money. No, the same -- listen carefully, because this is the concept that sometimes can be confusing.
CARSON: The amount of money that we are already spending for health care in this country is astronomical. And it's almost twice as much as many other countries in the world. And yet, we have terrible problems with access.
If we take those same dollars and divert them into a system that gives you control over your home health care, you and your health care provider cut out the middle man, the bureaucracy. Those dollars go much further. We won't have to use a many of them. The dollars are already there, Chris.
WALLACE: I understand, but they're in a government system.
Last question, I want to understand -- all right. Let's say I’ve retired, OK? I had a job, I had health insurance, now I’ve retired and I need government help for my health care. Where's that money coming from?
CARSON: The same place -- the same dollars that would be going to you through Medicare would go into your health savings account. You continue to use it just like you have been using. However --
WALLACE: So, in other words, does the government (INAUDIBLE) as a senior citizen?
CARSON: Right. If you decide you don't like that system and you prefer just to keep the system like it is, I’m not going to deny you the privilege of doing that.
WALLACE: Well, this is interesting, obviously, to be continued. And as you know, and I suppose it's a good thing. With more prominence in the polls, more discussion of your proposal.
Dr. Carson, thank you. Thanks for talking with us. And, of course, we'll see you again on the campaign trail, sir. Good luck.
CARSON: Oh, it's a pleasure. Thank you.