We owe all of our veterans and their families who support them our gratitude, our respect, and access to quality, affordable healthcare. It’s despicable that the House’s healthcare plan would gut Medicaid, putting the health coverage for tens of thousands of Ohio veterans and their families at risk.
A new report out last week from FamiliesUSA revealed that Medicaid covers 1.75 million veterans across the country, including 71,000 veterans in Ohio.
It’s a common misconception that all veterans automatically qualify for healthcare through the VA. Many veterans don’t qualify for insurance through the VA because of complex eligibility criteria. And their family members rarely qualify for VA assistance at all. For many of those military families, Medicaid is their only option.
Medicaid is also critical for our returning servicemembers who often face health challenges because of their service, including veterans at a higher risk for unique and complicated medical issues, like musculoskeletal condition, traumatic brain injuries, and PTSD.
Of the 71,000 Ohio veterans covered by Medicaid, 25,000 gained coverage through the expanded program made possible by the Affordable Care Act and supported by Governor Kasich. The Medicaid expansion also brought coverage to 12,000 family members of veterans.
The House plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act would eliminate the Medicaid expansion and kick those veterans and families off of their insurance. The bill would cut an additional $880 billion from traditional Medicaid beyond the expansion, putting coverage for the additional 46,000 Ohio veterans covered by Medicaid at risk.
For every dollar Ohio spends caring for those veterans on Medicaid, about 63 cents comes from federal dollars. If we cut that support, Ohio will be forced to cut care for those veterans or cut other programs to find the money.
The last thing we ought to be doing is making it harder for these men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country to get the care they need.
Of course there are problems with our health care system, for servicemembers and civilians alike, and I am ready to roll up my sleeves and work with anyone to improve the Affordable Care Act and bring down health care costs for families.
But kicking veterans off their insurance won’t accomplish that.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents Ohio in the US Senate.