Almost 13% of veterans – 1.8 million - lack health insurance, and many who might be eligible for care in VA facilities do not live close enough to one to utilize it. Like most Americans without health insurance, most of these vets are employed but their employer does not offer insurance and they cannot afford to purchase it privately. In addition, 3.8 million family members of these vets lack health insurance.
The crisis in veteran’s care is only getting worse, and will get much worse as mental and physical problems associated with the Iraq war continue to increase. When elected to congress I will propose a fairly straightforward solution: the creation of “Medicare Part V”. Medicare Part V would have benefits equal to those provided by VA coverage, but would reimburse any Medicare provider (physicians, hospitals, labs, physical therapy centers, imaging facilities, etc.). Any veteran who does not have health coverage could then receive coverage through Medicare Part V. Any veteran who lives far from a VA facility who would prefer to get care through local providers could “opt-out” of the VA System and select Medicare Part V instead. We should decide also if we would want to extend this to uninsured families of veterans, or at least allow them to purchase coverage through this system if they cannot get private coverage. This would lessen the pressure on the VA system and remove the backlog of vets waiting to get care.