Monday, December 30, 2013

Almost half of veterans do not qualify for VA healthcare

Glad someone is addressing this.
Nearly half of Maine veterans don’t qualify for health care through VA
Morning Sentinel
Rep. Ann Dorney and Rep. Stanley Short
December 30, 2013

Not having access to health care is problem our returning veterans shouldn’t encounter, but we’ve heard stories that cause us great concern.

A young veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq begins struggling with school and work months after his return to Maine because of post-traumatic stress, but lacks insurance for counseling from a local provider. A Desert Storm veteran will lose MaineCare coverage next month and worries how he will move ahead without the security of health care coverage.

When the Legislature convenes next month, Maine will have another opportunity to expand health care to our friends and neighbors, including 25,000 individuals who currently have MaineCare and will lose it on Jan. 1 because we have not accepted the federal dollars to expand eligibility. In addition, 45,000 Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans, would gain access to coverage if we choose to expand eligibility.

Contrary to popular belief, not all veterans qualify for comprehensive health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many elements, including duty status, income and service-related disabilities, go into determining eligibility for VA services.

Even veterans who qualify for services face barriers to care. In our large and rural state, many veterans live far away from the closest VA facility or have difficulty with transportation. Some work low-wage jobs and struggle with homelessness. Others are unaware they are eligible. And some are daunted by a complex process.
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