Committee examines Affordable Care Act's impact on veterans without insurance

St. John Valley Times

04.25.13 - 07:11 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held an oversight hearing yesterday, April 24, on the strategic and policy implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on veterans eligible for and engaged with health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Committee members examined the potential impact of the law and VA’s efforts to understand, implement, and meet the ACA’s requirements.

“The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will be an historic accomplishment. It’s important that VA is prepared and communicates with veterans,” said Rep. Mike Michaud, Maine - District 2, ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

According to a report by the Urban Institute, there are approximately 13 million non-elderly veterans living in the United States. Of that population 1.3 million, or one in 10, are uninsured and will need to select some type of medical coverage to comply with the law.

“With the substantial number of uninsured veterans, I expect the VA to have an aggressive communications plan in place to inform veterans about the options available to them,” said Michaud. “In light of the fast approaching deadlines contained within the law, our committee will continue to engage with VA on the implementation process.”

Currently enrolled veterans and beneficiaries will experience no change in their VA-administered health care programs, services, or benefits, according to a press release from Michaud's office. VA health care programs meet the ACA health insurance coverage requirement and will not change as a result. Veterans or other beneficiaries currently enrolled in VA health care programs do not have to take any additional steps to comply with the health insurance requirement outlined in ACA.

The Veterans Health Administration, with the assistance of a contractor, conducted several analyses to assess the potential impact of ACA provisions on veterans and VA. VA expects to see a modest net increase in enrollment of approximately 66,000 veterans. Enrollment and utilization changes may occur as some veterans and other beneficiaries respond to the new options for health care coverage available under ACA when fully implemented next year.

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