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Retired Army 1st Sgt. William Staude, of Elliott, Pa., salutes the Colors being carried by Soldiers from the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, stationed in Coraopolis, Pa., as they march past him during the Veterans Day parade in downtown Pittsburgh, Nov. 11,  2011.
Parades are great, but how about we give them some health care?

Republicans sure have a lot to say about our veterans and the country's need to support them, but when it comes time to act? They filibuster funding for an expansion of their healthcare program. They also leave 258,600 veterans uninsured. That's how many low-income veterans don't have access to health care through the Veteran's Administration and don't have access to Medicaid because their Republican lawmakers have refused to take the Obamacare expansion.
According to a report by Pew using analysis from the Urban Institute, approximately 258,600 of those veterans are living below the poverty line in states refusing to expand Medicaid. Without veteran's benefits—and with incomes too low to qualify for subsidies to use on the state exchanges—these veterans are left without affordable coverage options.
Not all veterans can use the VA system. To be eligible, a veteran would have to have at least two continuous years of military service or have been disabled in the line of duty. Plenty more veterans don't live near enough to a VA hospital to be able to regularly get treatment there. They can be dual-eligible, getting assistance from both Medicaid and the VA, but only where Medicaid is available. And in about two dozen states, it's not.

So when the Republican noise machine gets going full blast over the VA healthcare scandal, don't forget what the larger scandal is: Republicans are denying care to hundreds of thousands of veterans out of pure political spite.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed May 21, 2014 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (51+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Wed May 21, 2014 at 01:00:16 PM PDT

  •  Scandal:VA, CHIP, TRICARE, ACA, Medicare, (24+ / 0-)

    Medicaid and on and on.....who could not see that there needs to just ONE healthcare system for everyone??  (with medical specialists for war wounds of course.)

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Wed May 21, 2014 at 01:06:47 PM PDT

    •  didn't Repubs cut food stamps for Veterans? (11+ / 0-)

      via the Sequestration thingy.

      "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

      by MartyM on Wed May 21, 2014 at 04:07:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What you might be thinking of (6+ / 0-)

        was across the board for people on food stamps. Back in the early period of the recession when the unemployment rate was really high, Congress raised the food stamp benefit a little.

        I found out about it because it came to a scheduled end last Nov 1, after I had been on food stamps about 15 months. Wasn't much ~ $11, but interesting how even that much affects what you bring home.  @ $2.75/week, that is ~3 servings of marked down meat, or a carton of yoghurt or cottage cheese, or fruit for a week.

        My benefits here seem much more generous than other states I read about, and that baffles me. The states administer the program and may decide on restricted items. One of those here is protein powders. (Given the cost of meat, some of the protein drinks - especially on sale- are much cheaper than meat.) I don't understand why the amount would change as much as some reports - even for local cost of living.

         Overall, watching the ads, I can eat healthy with a few goodies; but it's hard to have much variety.

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Wed May 21, 2014 at 05:40:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wish you the best (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snackdoodle, Ginny in CO

          and that when the Dems retake the house this Nov. everyone will get what they deserve which would amount to what they need and not what some bean-counter in DC thinks we can cut.

          A friend who works at the local food bank said the number of families just exploded at the end of last year. We need a change of govt., one with the interests of common people at heart.

          Good luck!

          What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

          by TerryDarc on Thu May 22, 2014 at 07:41:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  So I had this all wrong then... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I had assumed that, once a vet you are already guaranteed care/insured through the VA? ie vets did not have to buy insurance?

      Republican Medicaid refusal leaves over 250,000 veterans uninsured

      "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis, 1935 --Talk of foresight--

      by tuma on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:58:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  indeed...the maze always leaves some folks in the (0+ / 0-)

      minority with no medical care

  •  The picture, of the old soldier, saluting (13+ / 0-)

     The picture, of the old soldier, saluting (0 / 0)
    the marching soldiers made me cry.

    : Republicans are denying care to hundreds of thousands of veterans out of pure political spite

    Pure, political spite.

    How evil.

  •  Non service connected disabilty pension (15+ / 0-)

    Not enough vets know about this:

    Eligibility Requirements

    Pension benefits are needs-based and your "countable" family income must fall below the yearly limit set by law. Veterans must have least 90 days of active duty, including one day during a wartime period. If the active duty occurred after September 7, 1980, you must have served at least 24 months or the full period that you were called up (with some exceptions). You must also be:

        Age 65 or older with limited or no income, OR
        Totally and permanently disabled, OR
        A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
        Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
        Receiving Supplemental Security Income

    The Veteran must have met the service requirements above for surviving spouses and children applying for the Survivors Pension.

    Full health care (no dental)

    "The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy." Kurt Vonnegut - "A Man Without a Country", 2005.

    by BOHICA on Wed May 21, 2014 at 01:48:42 PM PDT

    •  Most (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pilotshark, akmk, worldlotus

      Americans have no clue at all as to who gets VA benefits.   My WWII vet father who spent 4 years in North Africa and Italy got nothing while my ex husband who crashed a motorcycle in CA while dead drunk got a full disability and full benefits.

    •  My WWII veteran dad (4+ / 0-)

      Was able to easily get VA health benefits during the few years when there was open enrollment for all priority groups.

      He subsequently qualified for this pension + "Aid &Attendance" when he was admitted to nursing home, even though his countable income appeared to be comparatively high. Nursing home costs lowered his countable income to a level that qualified him. Then when he transferred to a state run veterans nursing facility, he qualified for a stipend from the VA to help defray nursing care costs. The two benefits combined cut his nursing care costs by over 50%.

      More veterans should apply for both the pension and for health benefits, because the income thresholds vary from place to place (cost of living variables) and those thresholds were recently increased.

      National income thresholds:

      Local thresholds:

      "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

      by SNFinVA on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:04:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All of these complexities related to determining (4+ / 0-)

        eligibility are what creates and sustains the enormous backlog the VA must contend with.  Streamlining is an absolute must if vets and their families are to be better served.

        Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

        by judyms9 on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:40:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Streamlining (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BOHICA, judyms9

          Income thresholds could be very detrimental if not done appropriately. It's a double edged sword. The cost of living in San Francisco is significantly higher than in, say, Memphis.
          If the income threshold is set too high then veterans miss out.

          What would be helpful would be to have more navigators available. And, in some instances, more patience on the part of veterans, some of whom give up before they even really get started with the application process. There are too many veterans who walk away discouraged before really pursuing their options. Veterans who look at, say, the national income threshold instead of the local threshold which may be considerably higher.

          Signing my dad up was not particularly challenging, and, when my husband applied he was enrolled within an hour.

          The BEST way to apply for VA healthcare benefits is to go directly to the nearest health center to apply. In person, discharge papers in hand.

          "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

          by SNFinVA on Thu May 22, 2014 at 09:46:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  An example (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BOHICA, judyms9

          The national income threshold is under $32k for veteran only.
          A veteran in San Francisco may see that and think 'I don't qualify', when in fact the adjusted local threshold is $59k .

          And is presuming that there is no service connected disability.  

          "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

          by SNFinVA on Thu May 22, 2014 at 09:53:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Public library staff could be trained as (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            navigators and assist vets and their families if there was an online application method as there is for public assistance in some states and Social Security, even if the app was a screening app which would be addressed by VA staff within a set short period of time.

            Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

            by judyms9 on Thu May 22, 2014 at 02:28:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  WWII veterans and widows pensions (0+ / 0-)

      Are not means-tested. (Still a few around, including the mother of a best friend.)

    •  My brother who has a bad heart and is in end (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      stage diabetes got this disability pension and it has made all the difference for him, even at barely $800 a month.

      "Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we are saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we are saved by faith...."

      by snackdoodle on Thu May 22, 2014 at 09:03:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Support our troops" the conservative way... (17+ / 0-)

    Conservatives treat military personnel the same way they treat fetuses: they LOVE them when they are IN, but once they are OUT, they're on their own...

    •  No, once they're IN (6+ / 0-)

      They'll spend the money to get you INTO the service, but once you're there, their work is finished.  It's not just the guys who've come back from the wars.  Trying to keep a family fed/housed/clothed on enlisted (E4 and below) pay almost always requires a second income.  Even with housing and subsistence allowances.  Or maybe it's better now than when I was in.  That was 30 years ago, after all.  Surely it's improved in that time, right?

      I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

      by mojo11 on Thu May 22, 2014 at 07:05:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's better now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        since somewhere in the late 90's the housing allowance was raised to cover 100% of housing costs. It's still tough, though, if you are an E-3 or E-4 with more than one kid.

        •  That's good to hear. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          VHA when I was in was based on median housing where you were stationed, and not 100%.  We lived in a place that... well sometimes I wondered how it wasn't condemned.

          I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

          by mojo11 on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:21:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Reagan cared about babies, too (3+ / 0-)

    Progressives said he cared about them right up until they were born.

    Something similar may be said of Republicans today: they care about veterans right up until the time they come home.

    What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

    by TerryDarc on Thu May 22, 2014 at 07:37:35 AM PDT

  •  That "Republican noise machine" has the ear... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, judyms9

    ... of the mainstream media. Nothing helpful to the broader cause of care for veterans and their families is getting heard. The coverage is all about the woes of Obama and of Shinseki (who, it must be said, does come across as kinda out of it). This is a no-lose story for Republicans who - as a matter of deliberate policy - Do. Nothing.

    This VA story - delays, inadequacies, gaps, lousy record-processing - has been brewing for a long time. It is astonishing that officials up and down the line have to call for an investigation after this has been in the news for months.

    That said, this now affords an opportunity to pin budget cuts and program-limiting on Congress. The buck should stop with the folks who put these wars into play without any care to funding them as extraordinary events. Fund these programs better!

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Thu May 22, 2014 at 07:46:07 AM PDT

  •  just imagine (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, Mr MadAsHell

    If the supreme court had not invalidated the ACA mandate, and if states had not opted out, everyone would have health care, even veterans, who of course are assumed to be more worthy than, say, single parents who are trying to raise kids, but still, everyone could have health care.  Of course then kids would not be forced to join the military. From the conservative point of view, it is better to let some veterans suffer than to have everyone have healthcare and be able to make less restricted career choices.

  •  Constitutional Conundrum? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Millions are not receiving equal protection under the ACA law, a SCOTUS conundrum.

    ACA made it law to insure low-income families including VETS equal health care protection.

    The right wing SCOTUS team negated that equal protection by giving governors an opt out option, knowing full well that right wing governors would do exactly that, denying low-income families and VETS Medicaid insurance ie health care.

    Therefore, SCOTUS ruled, in essence, unconstitionally making residents in states whose governors opted into the ACA fully-funded Medicaid expansion MORE EQUAL under the ACA law than those residents, whose governors and state legislators opted out, LESS equal.

    Where is the class-action law suit representing the millions of low-income families being denied Medicaid by governors who are serving an anti-Obama/Democratic, ALEC-driven ideology instead of their constituants?

    Didn't SCOTUS create a constitutional conundrum?

    It would be so interesting to hear the right wing SCOTUS argue against equal Medicaid protection under the ACA law, agree?

    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Thu May 22, 2014 at 07:54:47 AM PDT

  •  Dems in red state legislatures should make this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a wedge issue. Force the GOP to not bring up bills to expand medicare to military families, and the families of cops, firefighters, etc. Make them either vote them down or squash them, and then run against them.

    This is a good strategy in bluedog territories.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)! Follow on Twitter @dopper0189

    by dopper0189 on Thu May 22, 2014 at 07:59:54 AM PDT

  •  Ass Wart Limbaugh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If he really cared about veterans ,he would of served with them in Nam when he  could have

  •  what about the other million uninsured veterans? (0+ / 0-)

    What's their story?

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:10:56 AM PDT

  •  All veterans should have Medicare (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9, Mr MadAsHell, smartalek

    All veterans  should be eligible for Medicare. If Republicans quibble about cost, how about a special tax on war profiteers like Halliburton, Dyncorp etc ?

    Medicare, of course, is the kind of national health care that works and that should have been extended to all Americans - but the administration didn't have the guts to even suggest such a crazy radical idea

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Thu May 22, 2014 at 08:37:12 AM PDT

  •  Dems need to rake the GOP over coals for this in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    their re-election ads!!!!!!!

  •  Is there a way to find out by state? (0+ / 0-)

    Idaho Rethug gov is up for reelection to a third term. He dropped from 56% of the vote in the last primary to 51%, and Idaho doesn't like long term politicals, as a rule. The info would be useful to the Democratic candidate.

    I think, therefore I am. I think.

    by mcmom on Thu May 22, 2014 at 09:48:19 AM PDT

  •  So, (0+ / 0-)

    What part of that 286,000 vets not having health care is because of no access to the VA and what part is because of no access to Medicaid?

    And, isn't there provisions for funding for these people under the ACA due to low income and inability to pay for health insurance?

    I am confused here.

  •  So Why Isn't THIS On The Front Page Alongside... (0+ / 0-)

    ...the VA "Appointments" scandal???

    Arguably this is far far worse in terms of negative health and mortality for thousands of Vets who need healthcare and won't get it.

    You do have to hand it to the Republicans, they clearly know how to fully exploit a situation for their own political gain.   Meanwhile the Democrats are foolishly allowing themselves to be put on he defensive on the broader issue of health care for veterans while it's clearly the Republicans who have blocked access to healthcare for hundreds of thousands of poor veterans.

    The president should be taking the lead in aggressively and loudly and sharply condemning all that is wrong and inadequate with the provision of health care to veterans and go on to pin the responsibility squarely on the foreheads of REPUBLICAN officials who are chiefly responsible!!!

    Meanwhile, I signed the petition....and so should everyone else in America.   This one is a no brainer.

  •  Investigate Congress Inadequate Funding Veterans (0+ / 0-)

    Please sign White House Petition

    Investigate and hold accountable Congress for not adequately funding the Department of Veterans Affairs.
    Whereas Congress chooses to give tax cuts to the rich rather than adequately fund the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and all agencies that are responsible for providing health care to Veterans, Congress must be investigated and held responsible for any and every vote to not sufficiently fund Veterans health care and the Veterans Administration health care system.

    We the people demand a truthful, accurate, and independent investigation as to why our Veterans are withheld health care because the Congress does not adequately fund, or because Congress shuts down government preventing the government from providing timely and adequate health care to our veterans.

  •  It does help to have someone to navigate you (0+ / 0-)

    through the VA system.  I have been dealing with them since the late 70's for myself, for my husband since 1988.  Things now are 100% better than they used to be.  I am 10% disabled, service connected.  My husband is 100% service connected, but had to almost die before they agreed.  The VA's policy during the 80's and 90's was, give them pills so they go away.  They had my husband on unlimited darvon, percacet, and valum for about 10 years rather than deal with his problems.  He had signs of heart and kidney failure 10 years before his heart attack.  When he went to the emergency room at the Navy base, they recognized it, told us to go back to the VA and get them to address it.  They did not.  They instead inrolled my husband in a work program, trying to get him back to work.  He worked for a car dealership for about 4 months, getting sicker all the time.  His feet were dripping blood.  This was in 2003, end of that year.  By January of 2004, his employer fired him because he was too sick to work.  The VA saw him, put him in the hospital, amputated his toes on one foot, put him in several very bad, dirty nursing homes for rehab, including a VA rehab, where he fell out of bed and was knocked unconsous and they covered it up.  His room mates told me what happened. He was infected in that hospital, almost died from it, had to have more surgery on his foot.  Eventually I got him home, he improved, but was never the same.  In 2006, he had a heart attack, at the VA, in the waiting room.  It was bad, he had to have quadruple bypass surgery, had a stroke, was on life support and dialysis for 3 months, 9 months in rehab.  He is still alive, because I quit work and took control of his care. Even his doctor has said so.  I get help from LAMP, which helps coordinate his care, and I have direct phone numbers to his primary care doc and his kidney doc.  He has home health aides, visiting nurse, and me making sure he doesn't fall through the cracks again. I fought 4 months to get a ramp to get him home.  We have a hospital bed and walker, and wheel chair and scooter.  The squeeky wheel gets the grease and when I discovered his doctors at the VA knew he was headed for a heart attack and kidney failure and did nothing, I made sure they knew I was prepared to sue if things didn't improve.  They did.  I probably should have sued.  Three years ago, they decided that escemic heart disease, which he has was caused by agent orange and gave him back money for it.  The VA can be very good, but you have to know who to go to and have amunition.  (not real amunition, the knowledge kind!)

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