By Debbie Gregory.
Democratic senators have reached across the aisle to urge Republican senators to protect veterans’ access to healthcare in their health care replacement bill, expressing fears that the House-passed proposal could be particularly dangerous for veterans.
“We have known for months that the GOP healthcare bill could strip roughly 7 million veterans of eligibility for healthcare tax credit assistance,” said Rep. Julia Brownley, (D-CA). “Despite warnings from our veterans service organizations, and pleas from veterans across the country, President Trump and Speaker Ryan have recklessly forged ahead despite the consequences,” stated Brownley. She continued, “While I am deeply concerned about many aspects of this bill, the rush to put politics ahead of people, and the impact it could have on our veterans as a consequence, is simply shameful.”
As the Senate creates its own version of the American Health Care Act, advocates claim the U.S. House of Representatives’ version hurts veterans by barring veterans eligible for care from the Veterans Affairs Department from receiving tax credits to buy insurance on the individual markets, reducing federal support for Medicaid and effectively ending Medicaid expansion.
The Paralyzed Veterans of America publicly opposed the bill. The group is particularly concerned about the end of a 6-percentage-point match enhancement for Community First Choice, which pays for home health aides for people with spinal cord injuries, dementia, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and more.
“If they’re non-service connected, they’re not going to have access to a state veterans’ home,” said Susan Prokop, senior associate advocacy director at Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Many veterans joined a Twitter campaign opposing the bill, using the hashtag #IAmAPreexistingCondition. Many said they were especially concerned about post-traumatic stress disorder being classified as a pre-existing condition, a change that would make their health care more expensive.