OP-ED: Veterans should have health coverage

By Jon Bailey
Center for Rural Affairs

This
Veteran’s Day we honor those who serve and have served our country. Veterans
put their lives on the line to protect our independence, our freedom, and all
the rights we hold dear. Now is the time to fight for them by ensuring they
have access to health coverage.

 

Nationally,
one in 10 veterans are without health insurance and do not use Veterans
Administration healthcare. Nearly a million veterans and their spouses have
incomes low enough to qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Over
280,000 veterans and nearly 100,000 spouses of veterans would qualify for
expanded benefits but reside in states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid.
This is what is known as the “coverage gap” – hardworking people without
employer-sponsored health insurance and living in states that are denying them
access to health care coverage.

 

States
that have chosen not to take advantage of Medicaid coverage for working adults
with low incomes – 23 states in all – have left hundreds of millions of dollars
on the table to pay for health care in other states while denying access to
health care for tens of thousands of friends, neighbors and family members,
including thousands of veterans, close to home.

 

Our
veterans have kept our nation safe and secure. Veteran’s Day serves as a
reminder of the debt we owe all our veterans. One way we can help repay that
debt is to ensure that all veterans have access to health care coverage.