Affordable Care Act, GOPocrisy — May 22, 2014 at 12:44 pm

More than 300 veterans may die this year because Republicans won’t expand Medicaid


Always nice to see Republicans take a break from voting against veterans funding to criticize the VA


There’s no doubt that reports that veterans are dying while waiting for adequate care from VA hospitals is a genuine scandal.

But it’s a complex scandal that’s decades in the making. It’s a scandal in which Republican rhetoric doesn’t match their voting record. And it’s scandal that ultimately forces us to consider the foolish mistakes we’ve made sending soldiers into wars of choice, often without proper body armor.

Because this scandal is so nuanced and anathema to jingoism, Republicans have been slow to escalate it. And their sudden interest will be tested by their never-ending investigation into that one scandal with a Arabic-sounding name that they hope to use to take down both President Obama and Hillary Clinton along with Obamacare, the Great Society and the New Deal.

But while we’re on the subject of scandals and health care, it would be shameful to ignore a slow-motion outrage that Republicans are proud to perpetrate.

“The failure of some states to expand Medicaid is leaving a quarter-million veterans without health insurance,” writes Vox’s Adrianna McIntyre.

As governors in Arkansas and Indiana have found a way to expand Medicaid with giveaways to private insurers, the remaining GOP-led states refuse to take the expansion — which is fully funded for three years and funded by the federal government for at least 90 percent thereafter — out of ideological spite. They do this though their state will still have to pay for the coverage.

A recent study of Romneycare that found overall mortality was reduced by providing health insurance 4.5 percent, which, according to McIntryre, roughly “translates to one death prevented for every 830 people who gain insurance.”

Based on that math, the lives of 301 veterans could be saved this year if Republicans just expanded Medicaid.

Another irony of this VA scandal is that Republicans are admitting that denying health coverage leads to death.

Before Obamacare, a Harvard University study found that 45,000 Americans a year die for a lack of insurance. Accepting that finding also requires the right to accept that Obamacare will save lives, which some conservative thinkers have started to concede. They just think the money could be better spent of tax breaks for the rich or wars or something.

Veterans being denied care is a real scandal. And Republicans doing so gleefully is outrageous.

[Image via U.S. Army | Flickr]

  • judyms9

    Congress needs to appropriate enough money to pay vets and their spouses to perform data entry and eligibility determination for VA applications. They are capable and are motivated to fix the system with is riddled with policy complexities that were passed by past congresses. It would be a great targeted jobs program that would solve the VA’s administrative problems. Gen. Shinseki should also assign a panel of experienced brass to review the existing eligibility requirements and recommend streamlining measures, all within 90 days. And those measures should include a vouchering system for follow-up vet care when VA hospitals lack staff, programs or time. It could be similar to the vouchering process used by the Canadian government when they send some of there national health care patients to the US because of the patient’s complex needs or because the patient lives near a US border city with the closest available care. (Hospitals in Burlington, Vermont, for instance, handle Canadian patients regularly.) As for those red states that refuse to expand Medicaid, they should provide individual vouchers for vets to be used in the same way.

  • Michiganmitch

    Wonder if stats stats are available that would give us an approximation of how many Michiganders needlessly perished as a result of the REpublican legislators not granting immediate effect for Medicaid expansion? We should each and every one of them accountable in the upcoming elections.

  • chekwriter

    Not as big as the one! No sense of priorities. When people are dying and you know about it and do nothing. And can do some thing, and don’t.