Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vets still an afterthought?

There were points along the the health care "reform" process that had mind boggling omissions, including a couple times where Democrats totally forgot to exclude veterans who have VA health care coverage from fines and possible criminal liability for not paying them. There may still be problems in the most recent boondoggle for many TRICARE users (more familiar to military and veterans who use or have used it). From VA

Washington, D.C. — Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Steve Buyer and House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Buck McKeon introduced a bill and offered an amendment in effort to protect veterans, servicemembers, military retirees, and their families, from adverse consequences in the national health care bill. They were joined in their efforts by Deputy Ranking Member Cliff Stearns of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and a number of other House members.

The congressmen’s efforts to protect veterans were supported by The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Association for Uniformed Services, and the Association of Service Disabled Veterans.

“In addition to being fundamentally opposed to this sweeping government takeover of health care, I also strongly object to the health care reform bill, H.R. 4872, because it jeopardizes our veterans, servicemembers, and their families,” Buyer said.

“Ranking Member McKeon and I have taken every viable approach to fixing this problem, including offering an amendment and introducing a stand-alone bill. These actions were necessary because the Senate health care bill language being incorporated into the House health care reform bill does not give the Department of Defense and VA health care systems specific protections from interference by other government agencies administering the various authorities contained in this massive bill.”

“The health care reform bill DOES NOT cover most TRICARE beneficiaries under its definition of minimum essential coverage for health insurance--it only includes TRICARE for Life. Further, the bill’s definition of minimum essential coverage DOES NOT cover the children who suffer with spina bifida as a result of a veteran parent exposed to Agent Orange during the Korean or Vietnam Wars, and also does not cover CHAMPVA beneficiaries (certain dependents, widows and orphans).”

If this all sounds vaguely familiar to regular readers, I noted a similar issue with previous bills here: Stop the Rush: Fix the Bill, where almost all disabled veterans with VA coverage were an afterthought and left open to fines and possible criminal liability for not paying them.

I don't know about you, but I didn't even scratch the surface of the 900 pages a day required to analyze the new bill in 72 hours. But I'd probably need a team of lawyers and a month to find any loopholes and negative technicalities as it pertains to current law anyways. Generally it seems to be mostly the same stuff as before in different combinations, unfortunately with many of the same or similar uncorrected problems. The real problems seem to be absent from most of the talking points being fought over, a combo failure of parties, partisans, pundits, and media talking heads in my opinion. The biggest problem still remains in how little this "reform" actually addresses in the overall health care system, both public and private.

For more on that, see yesterday's post here: Unintentional Comedy?

In that post, I was mocking the White House assurances that the VA is safe from reform (as if it didn't seriously need it or this bill is so bad that it would somehow be scary to veterans). A great headline remake was found in the comments here on that:


"The Secretary of Veterans Affairs would continue to maintain sole authority over millions of backlogged claims and for enhancing the quality of abuse and access for all unsuspecting veterans."

It's funny because it's true.

It's not funny for the same reason.

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