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]