The Trump administration’s promise to eliminate Obamacare has the potential to decimate much of the health care that veterans rely upon and leaves uncertainty as to how many veterans will access healthcare thereafter.
Trump’s promise on Obamacare
One of President Trump’s central campaign promises was to repeal and replace Obamacare, which he frequently during the campaign called a “disaster.”
We have to repeal it and replace it with something absolutely much less expensive and something that works, where your plan can actually be tailored. We have to get rid of the lines around the state, artificial lines, where we stop insurance companies from coming in and competing.
Trump has softened his attitude to Obamacare since winning the election. Just days after the election, the then-president-elect said in an interview that he would be willing to keep portions of the law intact.
Nonetheless, the new president has indicated that he is intent on rolling back at least the portions of the law that he finds most disagreeable.
Within hours of assuming office, Trump issued an executive order directing those at the helm of the law to interpret its restrictions with as much ease as possible, so as to lower its financial burden on individuals.
The lack of specificity and direction from the president has left Republicans in Congress unsure of exactly how they should proceed.
Some in the GOP favor an immediate repeal of the health care law, with a replacement to be worked out in the coming months and years.
Others – such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) – only favor repeal if a replacement measure has already been agreed upon and is ready to implement.
The apparent confusion has been welcomed by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has pointed out the apparent lack of organization on the part of the GOP as to how to move forward on the issue.
They are like the dog who caught the bus… Because you cannot repeal a plan and put nothing in its place. It doesn’t matter if you say the repeal won’t take place for a year or two years.
The outcome of the debate on Obamacare in Congress could have profound implications for the nation’s veterans.
If the GOP moves forward with a full Obamacare repeal, many of those veterans who currently obtain health insurance from entities supplied by Obamacare – such as Obamacare insurance exchange and many private employers – are likely to lose their coverage.
And if those veterans lose their current coverage, as many as 3 million would be forced to move over to the VA for coverage, according to Carrie Farmer, a researcher in health care policy from the Rand Corporation.
I would expect the number of veterans using VA health care will increase, which will only provide a fruther challenge for VA to provide timely and accessible care.
The problem of a surge in VA enrollees – which has already been observed in the past year – would be exacerbated if there are not enough VA employees to process and handle the new influx.
That appears to be where things are headed: President Trump on Monday signed an executive order that imposes a hiring freeze on federal agencies, including the VA. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, called the freeze necessary.
When you have a system that’s not working, and then going out and hiring additional people doesn’t seem to be the most efficient way of solving the problem.
Veterans organizations have since called upon the president to not dismantle the health care regime, saying that doing so could prove detrimental to thousands of the nation’s veterans.