Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson announced on Friday that he has assembled a team of 32 doctors, authors, and policy experts — mostly vocal Obamacare opponents and anti-vaccine proponents — to advise him on health care policy.
Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, has repeatedly spoken out about his opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He has called it the worst thing since slavery, worse than the terrorist attacks of September 11, and said the U.S. Supreme Court overstepped its authority when it upheld the landmark health care law.
The medical coalition Carson announced in Iowa Friday will, according to his statement, help spread his “message of liberty, simplicity and personal responsibility for health care reform.” The announcement comes at a time when the number of people who are uninsured in the United States has declined by almost 16 million thanks to the health care law’s coverage expansion.
Here are a few of the doctors and experts who make up Carson’s coalition:
Dr. Kris Held: Texas ophthalmologist Kris Held is a founder and co-director of AmericanDoctors4Truth, a group working to repeal the ACA (fellow co-director and founder of the group, Jane Hughes, will also serve on Carson’s coalition). The group claims the health care law is a “politically driven government takeover of our healthcare, passed by overt bribery and coercion.” Held has also publicly spoken out against the law, saying on Fox News in 2014 that she will no longer comply with the ACA because she “can no longer be an enabler to the dysfunction that is harming patients.”
Dr. Jane Orient: Jane Orient is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons — a conservative group formed to “fight socialized medicine” — that has extolled a number of scientifically discredited theories like the belief that HIV does not cause AIDS, the belief that there’s a link between abortion and breast cancer, and the belief that there’s a link between autism and vaccines. The Arizona-based doctor has appeared on television and radio programs to speak about her views on health care reform. She has said the law will increase individual’s insurance costs and that companies will have to go out of business. She is also the president of Doctors for Disease Preparedness, which has been called a “truly bizarre lobby group” that focuses on promoting the belief that climate change is not real. She has also writen articles on controversial topics like her belief that same-sex marriage has led to the “destruction of the American family.”
Robert Henderson: Pharmacist Robert Henderson is the chairman of the board of Nutramax Laboratories and serves on the national council of the John Birch Society, a group that promotes limited government and is seen as a fringe group in the conservative movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a “conspiracist group” and said in 2013 that it was gaining influence again even after it was exiled by the right half a century ago because of its racist and anti-Semitic roots.
John Rosemond: North Carolina psychologist John Rosemond is known for being an outspoken political conservative who holds a number of controversial views on parenting. The mental health community has pushed back on Rosemond’s disciplinary approach to parenting including his belief that for certain children, spanking can be effective and is not harmful. Rosemond has received disciplinary sanctions from the North Carolina Licensing Board and has been entangled in a legal battle with Kentucky officials for misrepresenting his professional credentials.
Dr. Rosemary Fernandez-Stein:
North Carolina-based pediatrician Rosemary Fernandez-Stein and her husband helped to co-write and were featured in a commercial that warned of the consequences of the ACA. The commercial was aired on Fox News and was called a “home run” by conservative strategist Frank Luntz.