Trumpcare Could Be a Huge Blow to the Nation's Veterans

May 5th 2017

President Donald Trump has spoken a lot about how he loves our nation's veterans, but it turns out the health care bill he's trying to get passed could be a major blow to veteran health.

trump paul ryan penceCaleb Smith/Wikimedia - wikimedia.org

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) that Trump and Republicans in Congress are pushing would take away coverage from many veterans who were helped by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Many veterans don't live close to Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities or simply just don't qualify for VA health care, which is why a large group of them rely on the insurance provided by Obamacare.

"I do believe the new AHCA will harm vets who are currently accessing care outside of the VA," Dr. Sue Sisley, a physician who has been helping veterans for over 20 years, told ATTN:. "This is one population that the Trump administration may not have considered thinking about who would be affected."

At the end of 2016, a think tank called the Urban Institute released a study that looked at how Obamacare has affected veterans. It found that hundreds of thousands of veterans acquired health insurance because of Obamacare, claiming that between 2013 and 2015 the number of uninsured veterans dropped by 42 percent.

"We found evidence that the ACA implementation seemed to be improving veteran coverage levels," Jennifer Haley, a research associate at the Urban Institute and one of the authors of the report, told ATTN:. "We found about a 40 percent decline in the uninsured rate among non-elderly veterans, and it seems those coverage gains were largely due to Medicaid and coverage that was either through the exchanges or privately purchased."

obama veteransU.S. Army - army.mil

The AHCA passed the House before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was allowed to release figures showing how many people will lose insurance because of it. The CBO figures from an earlier version of the bill predicted 24 million Americans will lose coverage - many of them veterans.

"Given how the ACA seemed to really benefit coverage levels among veterans, that suggests taking away the options [through the AHCA], particularly the Medicaid expansion, would reduce their public coverage options," Haley said. "Those coverage levels could decline again."

She explained the study found that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, typically states run by Democrats, saw the largest increase in insured veterans.

Many veterans were injured during their time in foreign conflicts or may face mental health issues like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when they return, which is why it's important veterans are able to acquire affordable insurance despite having pre-existing conditions. The AHCA doesn't guarantee affordable coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

"Many of these military veterans are plagued with tons of pre-existing conditions," Sisley said. "And Obamacare was their only option in some cases."

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