Ben Carson to huddle with lawmakers as he develops Obamacare replacement

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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As he develops his own conservative alternative to Obamacare, Dr. Ben Carson is making the trek to Capitol Hill next week to talk health care with Republicans.

The former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital is scheduled to meet with the lawmakers of the Congressional Health Caucus on April 3, according to an invitation obtained by The Daily Caller.

The health-care caucus, led by Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, is a Republican group that routinely gathers to discuss health-care policy.

“The event will feature a short statement from Dr. Carson, in which he will present his ideas for health care reform,” the invitation states. “Members will then be able to ask questions and discuss their perspectives on the future of health care.”

The event, scheduled to take place in the Cannon House Office Building, is a private “member only event,” according to the invite.

Conservatives have rallied around Carson over the last year after he famously criticized Obamacare during the National Prayer Breakfast as President Barack Obama sat just a few feet away.

In an interview with The Daily Caller on Friday, Burgess, a physician, said the caucus has invited Carson back after a well-received appearance last summer. Some conservatives have pushed Carson to run for president in 2016 — something Burgess suggested will also be on lawmakers’ minds during the meeting.

“I expect him to cover some of the same things he did last time, but you know, Dr. Carson, is sort of gaining a national presence,” Burgess said. “Obviously the 2014 elections are ahead of us. But there’s another election that will follow that. He’s been going around the country talking to a lot of people, taking the pulse, the temperature, of lots of different groups around the country. We’re interested in what his travels have revealed to him.”

Carson, who has retired from medicine, has recently stepped up his political activities by agreeing to serve as chairman of the American Legacy PAC’s Save Our Healthcare Project. Carson plans to release a series of principles soon to guide the development of an Obamacare replacement plan, a spokesman for the group said.

“We want it changed,” Carson said of Obamacare during the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month. “We want something better. We want the health care in our own hands. We can do it. We pay twice as much per capita for health care in this country than the next closest nation. We can easily do this. We have a lot of alternatives.”

R.C. Hammond, a spokesman for the PAC, said Carson will release a detailed replacement plan in a few months.

The political action committee has ties to former House Speaker New Gingrich. Both Gingrich and his wife, Callista, are honorary co-chairs of the effort. Hammond was a spokesman for Gingrich’s campaign and Adam Waldeck, the PACs executive director, is a former Gingrich 2012 campaign staffer.

The PAC, Hammond said, will report raising almost $1 million in the first quarter of this year, the direct result of the Carson Obamacare replacement project. During CPAC, Carson privately met with donors to encourage them to support the PAC.

Carson, 62, has never run for office before and has said he has no plan to run for president. But an independent super PAC, the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, says it has also raised nearly $3 million dollars in its effort to convince Carson to run in 2016.

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