Adding to the extensive body of evidence that participating in Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion is both smart fiscal policy and the right move for securing poor Americans’ health care, a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute study concludes that states refusing to expand Medicaid will leave over 200,000 low-income, uninsured veterans and two-thirds of uninsured veterans’ spouses without access to affordable health coverage.
According to the report, out of America’s 1.3 million uninsured veterans, 40 percent could qualify for expanded Medicaid benefits under Obamacare, but “of the half-million uninsured veterans who would be potentially Medicaid eligible under the ACA, three-quarters—414,000 people—have incomes below 100 percent of FPL and would not qualify for exchange subsidies if their state does not expand Medicaid. Likewise, two-thirds of veterans’ spouses who could qualify for expanded Medicaid under the ACA would not be eligible for exchange subsidies should their state not expand Medicaid.”
That’s bad news considering that the majority of those veterans live in states whose governors have either chosen not to expand Medicaid or have not yet decided whether to expand. That presents a massive burden for veterans — and veterans’ families — who don’t have health insurance, pricing them out of the medical system and forcing them to forgo or delay care due to its associated costs.
And this study doesn’t even take into account the tens of thousands of veterans who have yet to return home from the waning Afghanistan war. Those veterans are mostly young Americans who will be forced to confront the widespread economic inequality, record homelessness, and unprecedented levels of PTSD and suicide that are plaguing veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars.