With the Trump Administration now in full force in Washington, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be on thin ice. Sadly, the repeal of the ACA may have devastating effects on veterans’ health care.

Since the ACA took full effect in 2014, the rate of uninsured non-elderly veterans has decreased by 42 percent! Since health reform took effect, fewer veterans have reported outstanding health needs due to health care costs, while fewer vets report difficulty paying necessary medical expenses.

Any repeal of the ACA, as planned by Trump and the Republican Congress, would be a major setback for the health care of veterans as it would increase the importance of the role of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system. This system is already overstressed and pushed to its limits with long waits for appointments and overburdened personnel.

As more and more veterans took advantage of new health care alternatives, the uninsured rate among these vets dropped from 11.9 percent in 2013 to 6.8 percent in 2015, according to an Urban Institute analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). States that adopted the Medicaid expansion have reported further increases in meeting the health care needs of veterans.

While a majority of vets do, in fact, receive health services through the VA, not all veterans qualify for VA care or live too far from facilities, thus decreasing their health care access. Almost 3 million veterans enrolled in the VA and eligible for VA health care still received some of their health care from a source other than the VA.

To help solve the health care dilemma of veterans, some believe that President Trump and Congressional Republicans should increase resources for the VA system and cease all efforts to repeal the ACA. Instead, they should make a greater effort to enroll the more than 300,000 uninsured veterans already eligible for ACA coverage. Further, more states expanding Medicaid would also greatly benefit vets by meeting more of their needs.

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