Health care bill won't impact Tricare, VA health programs
Published: March 22, 2010
Even before the health care vote yesterday military and veterans groups were scrambling to head off panic about the possible impact of the new rules on servicemembers' care and veterans programs. The bottom line: None of these changes should have an impact on Tricare or VA health benefits.
Late last night Kevin posted this comment from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, promising that any national health care changes "will not negatively impact" the Tricare system. Earlier in the day, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki released a similar statement noting that the new bill "will provide the protections afforded our nations veterans and the health care they have earned through their service."
Also on Sunday, the chairmen of five House committees (including Veterans Affairs chairman Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., and Armed Services chairman Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo.) released a letter affirming that Tricare or VA coverage satisfies new rules requiring all citizens obtain health care coverage (or face a fine).
"The intent of the bills was never to undermine or change the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs operation of their health care programs or interfere with the care that our service members receive under Tricare," the letter stated. "We commit to these dedicated service members and their families as well as our veterans that we will protect the quality health care they receive."
In a statement AMVETS officials said the House actions and memos removed any lingering concerns about the health care overhaul hurting veterans care.
But that doesn't mean everyone is assured: VFW officials disputed those promises, saying they still believe that certain Tricare programs and VA beneficiaries could be forced to purchase additional health insurance. The folks over at VetVoice have accused the VFW of playing politics and ignoring the facts on health care reform.
UPDATE: Another view, this time from American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill: As late as 9 p.m. last evening, I was on the telephone with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and we spoke candidly about The American Legions concerns. Based on that conversation, the transcripts of hearings, assurances from the President and Secretary themselves, I am 100-percent confident that Congress will act responsibly as regards the nations veterans and their families."