DOVER — Tens of millions of Americans could soon lose their health care or be forced to pay more for coverage if the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act, and millions of veterans would be among those hit hard, participants in a virtual forum emphasized today.
Hosted by votevets.org, which describes itself as a major “progressive political organization dedicated to” veterans’ issues and getting veterans elected to Congress, today’s event focused on the impact rolling back the ACA would have. Joining VoteVets were Tom Carper, Delaware’s senior U.S. senator, and former Delaware National Guard Adjutant Gen. Frank Vavala, both of whom decried the latest Republican attempt to overturn the ACA, also known as “Obamacare.”
On Nov. 10, one week after the general election, the nation’s highest court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the ACA. Should the GOP-controlled Senate confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in the next few weeks, a ruling in favor of the White House is more likely.
Describing President Donald Trump as dead set on undoing former President Barack Obama’s accomplishments, Sen. Carper said the ACA has helped many Americans acquire better, more affordable coverage, especially those with preexisting conditions.
“There were millions, tens of millions, probably 130 million, across the country with preexisting conditions,” he said. “A lot of those are veterans.”
A study released by the Department of Veterans Affairs in May found that 51% of veterans did not use any VA benefits during the year studied, something noted by Gen. Vavala. That 49% makes up the group who would be especially affected by repeal of the ACA.
“Lives are on the line with the Supreme Court decision,” and a ruling that overturns the ACA would be a “disgrace,” Gen. Vavala said. In the first two years after the ACA’s implementation, the uninsured rate for non-elderly veterans fell almost 40%, said the general, who retired in 2017 after 18 years leading the Delaware National Guard.
Current and former members of the military have enough to worry about aside from the stress of whether they and their families will be covered by health insurance, participants told listeners.
“When an American makes a decision to serve this country, they risk their lives and risk facing severe health conditions as a result of that service. We owe it to our veterans to give them the very best access to quality care,” Gen. Vavala said.