If he wants to help veterans, Bentley should expand Medicaid
www.al.com, Jan. 6, 2014
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley recently announced the creation of a commission to study ways in which the state might support its newly returned veterans. His office in Montgomery called this issue “critical,” and noted that veterans’ problems adjusting to their return home are often “long- lasting.”
Why, then, would the governor ignore any option that might provide relief to Alabamian veterans in favor of an exploratory commission that might not? How could he refuse to accept an option that would immediately benefit thousands of Alabamians by granting them access to an infrastructure of support and services that have already been established? If this issue is one Montgomery deems “critical,” then why doesn’t its response reflect that urgency?
Partisanship. Pure, unadulterated partisanship.
According to the Urban Institute, there are over 13,000 uninsured veterans in the state of Alabama. These veterans comprise a portion of the more than 250,000 uninsured veterans nationwide who could receive healthcare through the very Medicaid expansion that Gov. Bentley (and 22 other governors) turned down. Only one-third of those 13,000 Alabamian veterans are enrolled for healthcare services from the Department of Veterans Affairs – the only remaining healthcare option for uninsured veterans in the state. Another third of them are ineligible for V.A. services at all.
Governor Bentley’s refusal to accept the Medicaid expansion advocated by the Obama administration doesn’t make life easier for Alabamian veterans and their families. Indeed, by denying uninsured veterans’ access to healthcare, he makes their lives much harder.