Rep. O’Halleran calls for health care transparency for veterans

June 19, 2017
In The News

U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., called the media to a local American Legion Post Monday morning to express his concern over the Trump administration’s Obamacare replacement plan, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA).

The bill passed the House without the support of a single Democrat and there is concern by major patient advocacy organizations, including AARP and the American Cancer Society, about the impact the bill could have on Americans, specifically, veterans.

Meetings about healthcare on Capitol Hill currently happen behind closed doors, without the input of Democrats, according to O’Halleran. While the House passed its version without input from the left, the Senate is still working on its own version. The Arizona congressional representative wants more information before the Senate votes.

“I am going to request, and send a letter around to my cohorts, that we ask them also analyze the impact of the American Healthcare Act on our veterans, on our elderly, on our children and Native American communities,” O’Halleran said.

The House version that passed significantly rolls back the expansion of Medicaid. He says that is a problem for Arizona veterans.

“In many cases, Medicaid is used as a supplement to the VA care for veterans who are older than 65 years old. But many Medicaid-enrolled, working-age veterans 18 to 64 years old are ineligible for Medicare and have no other source of coverage,” O’Halleran claimed. “Without Medicaid, they would be uninsured and unable to get the care they need.”

The Congressional Budget Office did not receive the House version of the bill in time to weigh in before a vote. However, when the non-partisan CBO did receive the AHCA bill, it determined it would trim the federal budget deficit but would also leave 24 million Americans uninsured in 10 years.

While unpopular, some Republican representatives have defended their House version, pointing to the trials and tribulations of Obamacare and failing insurance markets in certain states.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has expressed hope for a vote on the Senate version by the Fourth of July, though other Republican senators, including Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have called for a more methodical approach to what could be months of discussion and planning.