Dear Texas: Don't Leave Our Vets and Military Families Behind

Last week, many of us celebrated the birth of our country and gave thanks to the men and women who have served her over the past 236 years. We owe a profound debt to the many whose sacrifices made possible our successes. Sadly, that debt cannot always be repaid; the best we can do is care for our veterans when they return home. As a country, we have worked hard to do this. But the wounds of war are costly. More than 1.3 million veterans are without health insurance.  That means over 10% of veterans are currently uninsured, and the rate is even higher in our state.

Texas has more uninsured vets than any other state in the union.

These are veterans that have unmet health needs and are forced to delay care because they can’t afford it. The same is true for many of their spouses and children.

So how can we provide better care for Texas veterans and their families?

About half of our uninsured veterans earn less than 138% of the poverty line (that’s about $11,000 a year for a single person with no dependents). What that means is that, if Texas chooses to expand Medicaid in 2014, we will be able to offer coverage to 85,000 veterans and their families. As a state, we won’t even have to spend much to do it: Texas will only be out about $120 dollars in administrative costs for every newly insured person, but the federal government pays the rest.

(That’s right: there's no cost to Texas for the first three years. After that, Texas pays only a fraction (10%) of the cost, while the federal government covers 90%. Not bad, right?)

But wait, there’s more! Thanks to health reform, about 50% of veterans and their families will qualify for additional cost-savings beginning in 2014. Approximately 125,000 Texas veterans and their families will be eligible for tax credits to help them pay for health insurance!

There are a lot of different opinions about how we should improve our health care system, but one thing we can all agree on is that our veterans deserve to be covered. Obamacare may not have been exactly what you hoped for, but it’s what we’ve got.  When our state lawmakers return to Austin next year, we'll have the chance to change the lives of 210,000 Texas veterans and their families.

So, let's get an early start and contact our representatives today with this message: Health reform is moving forward. Don't leave our vets and military families behind.

Let's #GettoWorkTX !

Contributed by: Katherine C. Kornman