GUEST VIEW: Health coverage for veterans a must

Published 12:36 pm Thursday, November 13, 2014

This Veteran’s Day we honor those who serve and have served our country.

Veterans put their lives on the line to protect our independence, our freedom, and all the rights we hold dear. Now is the time to fight for them by ensuring they have access to health coverage.

Nationally, one in 10 veterans are without health insurance and do not use Veterans Administration healthcare.

Email newsletter signup

Nearly a million veterans and their spouses have incomes low enough to qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Over 280,000 veterans and nearly 100,000 spouses of veterans would qualify for expanded benefits but reside in states that have chosen not to expand Medicaid. This is what is known as the “coverage gap” – hardworking people without employer-sponsored health insurance and living in states that are denying them access to health care coverage.

States that have chosen not to take advantage of Medicaid coverage for working adults with low incomes – 23 states in all – have left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table to pay for health care in other states while denying access to health care for tens of thousands of friends, neighbors and family members, including thousands of veterans, close to home.

Our veterans have kept our nation safe and secure. Veteran’s Day serves as a reminder of the debt we owe all our veterans. One way we can help repay that debt is to ensure that all veterans have access to health care coverage.


Jon Bailey is director of the Rural Public Policy program at the Center for Rural Affairs. He may be reached at