Tester and Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee Members Highlight Impact of Senate Health Care Plan on Veterans

(U.S. Senate) – Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Jon Tester and Senators Patty Murray, Richard Blumenthal, Joe Manchin, and Sherrod Brown today highlighted the negative impacts of the controversial Senate health care plan on the nation’s veterans.

Approximately 7 million veterans choose to receive their health care outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured veterans has dropped by nearly 40 percent.

“This plan, written in secret, will devastate thousands of elderly, disabled and rural veterans who go outside of the VA for all or some of their health care,” said Tester. “This plan guts Medicaid which provides life-saving treatment, mental health care and access to a health care provider for thousands of folks who have bravely served this nation. I will be working hard to make sure that any health care law honors our promises to our veterans, but this plan doesn’t even come close.”

“Our country makes a promise to take care of the men and women who serve, but Trumpcare would do just the opposite,” Murray said. “Hundreds of thousands of veterans in Washington state, not to mention countless military families, could see their costs increase or lose their Medicaid coverage if Republicans jam this bill through, which is why I am fighting it every step of the way.”

“Senate Republicans are recklessly gambling with veterans’ healthcare,” said Blumenthal. “If this bill passes, millions of the men and women who put their lives on the line for this country will lose access to care, including at least 18,000 Connecticut veterans. Every Member of Congress who plans to support this bill needs to imagine looking a veteran in the eye and telling them why their mental healthcare for PTS has been halted, or why they can no longer afford treatment for traumatic brain injury sustained while serving their country.”

“More than 50 percent of our Veterans in West Virginia seek healthcare outside of the VA system. Our Veterans and their families don’t deserve to have their healthcare ripped away from them or to have their out-of-pocket costs skyrocket after they have bravely sacrificed for their country,” Manchin said. “The Republican healthcare bill will raise costs on the 80,000 West Virginia Veterans who are older than 65 and on the 85,000 West Virginia Veterans who live in rural communities. Moreover, with less care available in our community hospitals, the Veterans Health Administration expects to see an uptick in enrollees, which will overwhelm their already overburdened resources. This bill does not reflect our obligation and promise to our Veterans and their families to take care of them when they get home and it is one of the many reasons I cannot support it.”

“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,” said Brown. “When returning home, they should be able to focus on spending time with loved ones and rejoining their communities, not worrying about how they’ll afford healthcare.”

After 13 Republican Senators drafted the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act behind closed doors, they finally released the legislation to the public just days before forcing a Senate vote.

The potential impacts of the Senate health care plan on veterans nationwide include:

  • Nearly 1.75 million disabled and low-income veterans could lose Medicaid coverage.
  • Approximately 600,000 veterans face a tax that could charge them up to 5 times more for health insurance.
  • Over 5 million rural veterans could face difficulty in accessing vital services at their rural hospitals.
  • Up to 20 percent of veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and up to 30 percent of Vietnam veterans who have Post Traumatic Stress could be charged more for mental health care. 
  • Up to 7 million veterans could lose tax credits that help them afford health care. Many of these veterans are not eligible to enroll in VA health care.
  • Approximately 7 percent of veterans could lose access to care for opioid or other substance abuse disorders.