Includes 41,000 Veterans in Colorado
Washington, D.C. – About 1.75 million veterans – 41,000 in Colorado – could see their health care coverage weakened or lost entirely if House Republican plans to cut traditional Medicaid or roll back Medicaid expansion were to become law, according to a report released May 22 by Families USA and VoteVets.
The number of veterans whose health care is endangered by these cuts exceeds the number of all service members currently on active duty – about 1.3 million in uniform, according to Department of Defense budget numbers.
“This report highlights yet another way the GOP American Health Care Act would have dangerous consequences for Coloradans,” said Adam Fox of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “Colorado veterans who rely on health coverage through the Medicaid program stand to lose access to care in spite of their service to our country. It shouldn’t even be a question that Colorado’s Senators would reject these cuts to the Medicaid program which is so vital for so many Coloradans.”
340,000 veterans are insured through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, according to the report. The House Republican plan to roll back Medicaid expansion would lead to most or all of them losing their Medicaid coverage. An additional 1.4 million veterans get health care through the traditional Medicaid program, and the House bill’s across-the-board cuts to Medicaid would weaken or strip away their health coverage. Many of these veterans are at a higher risk than most for unique and sometimes serious or complicated health care issues as a result of their service, including musculoskeletal conditions, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder, the report said.
“You cannot say you’re pro-veteran and vote for TrumpCare,” said Will Fischer, Iraq War Veteran and Director of Government Relations for VoteVets. “The Medicaid cuts, alone would crush millions of veterans, as this report shows. We, as a nation, owe it to those veterans to keep Medicaid expansion in place, and, if anything, expand it further. Rolling it back is a true slap in the face to those who put on the uniform, and now depend on Washington to make sure they have health care.”
Veterans turn to Medicaid for a variety of reasons, according to the report. Eligibility for Veterans Affairs (VA) health care benefits depends on a variety of factors, including minimum service requirements as well as disability and discharge status. Also, many veterans do not live near a VA provider and transportation issues can make it impractical or impossible for them to use the VA as a source of care. This is particularly true for the millions of veterans who live in rural areas, the report said.
The health care bill – passed earlier this month by the House and now before the Senate – would cap and cut spending on traditional Medicaid and phase out Medicaid expansion, making it harder for veterans to get the health care they need.
The report includes a state-by-state breakdown of the numbers of veterans whose health care is at risk.
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative represents 45+ Colorado organizations and individual members representing more than 500,000 Colorado consumers, advocating for affordable, accessible, quality health care for all Coloradans.