Yesterday my congressman in the House of Representatives, Jim Renacci, published Commentary: Ensuring veterans get the support they need in Wooster, Ohio’s The Daily Record. I left this comment:
I’m one of the veterans that Rep. Renacci pretends to support. I receive excellent health care from the Veterans Administration here in Northeast Ohio, and while no agency is perfect, I can only applaud the care and professionalism of the staff and volunteers at both the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Wade Park and Parma Multi-Specialty Outpatient Clinic.
Rep. Renacci hit the nail on the head when he wrote in his second sentence: My priority is that all veterans are receiving the proper benefits and health care that’s accessible to them. The key word here is proper. What is proper? I am covered by the VA because I have a service-connected disability. The vast majority of veterans—despite their sacrifice—do not qualify for VA health care because they do not have a service-connected disability. Congress (and that includes Rep. Renacci and his VA Accountability First Act of 2017) has never mandated that all veterans be covered for their health care needs.
One of the consequences of Rep. Renacci’s decision to not withhold support for the disastrous Trumpcare bill would, if the bill has been voted on and passed, have been to kick hundreds of thousands of veterans (including tens of thousands here in Ohio) off the Medicare rolls expanded by President Obama under the Affordable Healthcare Act.
Rep. Renacci is right. There is no greater sacrifice our young men and women can choose to make—a choice Renacci did not make—than to enlist in our armed services. If he truly wishes to honor these American heroes, then Rep. Renacci should sponsor a bill giving all veterans access to the VA system and then fully fund the expansion that such a move would demand.
Then veterans might think he means what he says.