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Be alert to congressional health care actions

September 14, 2014

This article was published in the Duncan Banner September 12, 2014.

We, as civilians, along with active and retired military service members, cannot afford to allow our focus on every American’s health care to be diminished by political ideology.
Hard-won gains, insuring all of our citizens have access to preventive and catastrophic care, are essential for sound economies to flourish.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the first step toward the time when ALL of our citizens’ heath care is insured. One benefit you do not hear about from the ACA’s detractors is the trend in the cost of health insurance premiums. Prior to President Obama signing the Act into law, insurance premiums were rising 20-30 Percent or higher each year. New analyses show that the cost of premiums has dropped to as low as 8 Percent in 2014! The current analysis is based on the Affordable Care Act’s “ Silver Plan.” (The Kaiser Family Foundation, who conducted the analysis has chosen to use the “Silver Plan” as the benchmark which the Federal Government then set to determine the amount of subsidy those that qualify may receive.)
This drop in the rate of premium increases has two benefits:
FIRST, those who can afford insurance will not see a double-digit premium rate increase.
SECOND, is the Federal Government itself. Rate drops quiet all of the “doom and gloom” about the funds our Federal Government will have to pay out in subsidies or tax credits for individuals who qualify for those benefits under the ACA.
It will be interesting to see the next report from the Congressional Budget Office regarding the adjusted cost of the Affordable Care Act on the Federal Budget.
The passage of the Health Care Act has only a minimal impact on active-duty members of the United States Military. Those members’ dependents are covered under various levels of Tri-Care; and the active-duty member receives care under his/her branch of service.
Recent reports on conditions of the United States Veterans Administration have faded from the news. With the passage and signing by President Obama of House Resolution 3230, the minds of our elected representatives have apparently strayed to other matters.
However, Congress did ask the Congressional Budget Office to furnish them with a probability study regarding the increase in cost of health care for veterans registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs. That probability study, Veterans’ Disability Compensation: Trends and Policy Options, has reached very few news markets. Or if it did, it made no impression upon news analysts.
At the rate older veterans are passing away (5 Million or 17 Percent from 2000 to 2013), those still alive will soon be gone. When World War II, Korea and Vietnam Veterans are no longer in the system, costs will level off. The Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have not yet had an impact on the rise in V.A. Health care costs, according to the CBO.
The CBO, because of the limited number of veterans prior to Vietnam, theorized that a large share of the added costs may be due to a “liberalized definition” of service-connected ailments.
The harmful effects of the insidious chemical, “Agent Orange” (Defoliant spray) used in Vietnam which placed all the troops stationed there in harms way, have never been fully disclosed. It is known that one did not have to handle the chemical or be under it when sprayed on thick jungle growth for one to be contaminated later. Studies have proven that Vietnam veterans have higher rates of a great number of common illnesses normally tied to aging.
Studying the millions of Vietnam veterans, the CBO questioned the rise in Diabetes cases. The fact remains that Diabetes rose from 38 Thousand in 2000 to 320 Thousand by 2013 in Vietnam veterans. Diabetes was one of the first diseases to be recognized as being caused by Agent Orange. Though little was disclosed from medical studies, a correct decision was made to include this condition as service-connected.
Watch carefully as Congress reacts to CBO’s new study!


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