Saturday, February 28, 2009

VA Health Care for All Veterans

As both of my regular readers know my wife and I will be Medicare eligible next month. My interest in health care in general and the multitude of options now facing Medicare beneficiaries is more than academic. Among other options I already checked into VA coverage because I personally know three people covered by the VA, all of whom are quite satisfied with both the quality and price. One is an insulin-dependent diabetic and another has a complicated medical picture involving both oral and (unrelated) abdominal surgery Turns out I'm not elegible because there is a means test. I have income over 30.000 dollars annually for the last three years. So this looks good to me.


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama wants to expand health care access to veterans earning modest incomes.

The president's proposed budget for Veterans Affairs would provide health care to non-disabled veterans whose income exceeds about $30,000 annually. Obama has promised to provide VA health care to those blocked under the Bush administration.

By 2013, the administration says 500,000 veterans would be eligible.

Obama would provide extra funding for programs targeting homeless veterans and those in rural areas. And it would pay for upgrades to the VA's technology system to help eliminate the average six-month wait to have a disability claim processed.

Overall, it would increase the agency's discretionary spending by 10 percent to $53 billion.

All kinds of people are bitching about Barack Obama's initiatives, but as far as I can tell the loudest complaints are coming from a comfortable, well-cared for, economically secure population. I thought I was in that group myself during my working life, having paid the max into Social Security over twenty years, but I was wrong.

I worked closely with those who never had, and never would have, that measure of income. The minimal assistance they received from government was all the safety net they had. Now, at the end of my career, we are joining that group. My income will be Social Security for me and my wife, plus a small pension that will remain fixed until I die because it is not indexed to inflation. My wife and I are not in trouble. Our health is good and our assets secure. But we know that without a safety net for health care, everything we have can vanish in the financial aftermath of one expensive medical event. The specter of death itself is more inviting than that.
When I read complaints critical of universal health care, it makes me want to cry.

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