Budget Panel Eyes End to VA Care for 1.3 Million Vets
The House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has told a veterans’ group it is studying a plan to save $6 billion annually in VA health care costs by cancelling enrollment of any veteran who doesn’t have a service-related medical condition and is not poor.
Committee Republicans, searching for ways to curb federal deficits and rein in galloping VA costs, are targeting 1.3 million veterans who claim priority group 7 or 8 status and have access to VA care.
Priority group 8 veterans have no service-connected disabilities and annual incomes, or net worth, that exceed VA means-test thresholds and VA “geographic income” thresholds, which are set by family size.
Priority Group 7 veterans also have no service-connected disabilities and their incomes are above the means-test thresholds. But their incomes or net worth fall below the geographic index. In other words, because of where they live, in high cost areas, they likely struggle financially.
Joseph Violante, national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, said he first learned of the committee’s interest in possibly narrowing access to VA clinics and hospitals from a DAV member from Wisconsin, chairman Ryan’s home state.
Violante and other DAV officials arranged their own meeting with a staff member for the committee. He confirmed growing interest in a cost-saving initiative to push priority 7 and 8 veterans out of VA health care.
As this budget committee staffer reminded Violante, proponents for opening VA health care to all veterans had argued it would be cost neutral to VA. That’s because VA would charge these vets modest co-payments for their care. Also VA would bill these veterans’ private health insurance plans for the cost of their VA care.
That argument from 1996 turned out to be wrong. Co-payments collected from low-priority veterans and private insurance plan billings today cover only 18 percent of the cost of care for group 7 and 8 veterans. By 2009, the annual net cost to VA to treat these veterans totaled $4.4 billion or 11 percent of VA’s annual medical appropriation.
The figures come from the Congressional Budget Office‘s annual report to Congress, “Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options.” Among options it presented this year to the new Congress for reducing VA spending is one to close enrollment in VA care for all veterans in groups 7 and 8 and to cancel the enrollment of veterans currently in two low priority groups.
CBO said this would save VA $62 billion in the first 10 years, from 2012 to 2021. But the net savings to the government over the same period, CBO said, would be about half that amount. That’s because many of the veterans bumped from VA are old enough or poor enough to use Medicare or Medicaid, which would drive up the cost of those programs.
Tom Morello: ‘Paul Ryan Is the Embodiment of the Machine Our Music Rages Against’ | Music News | Rolling Stone
I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of “Fuck the Police”? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!
Don’t mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta “rage” in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions.
My hope is that maybe Paul Ryan is a mole. Maybe Rage did plant some sensible ideas in this extreme fringe right wing nut job. Maybe if elected, he’ll pardon Leonard Peltier. Maybe he’ll throw U.S. military support behind the Zapatistas. Maybe he’ll fill Guantanamo Bay with the corporate criminals that are funding his campaign – and then torture them with Rage music 24/7. That’s one possibility. But I’m not betting on it.
Paul Ryan and PCOS
This is a bit of an overshare. It’s the kind of thing that would usually be private. Unfortunately, by co-sponsoring HR 212, Paul Ryan has made my private health issue a matter of public policy.
I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s pretty sucky. Basically, it means that I have a hormonal imbalance that does all sorts of really unfortunate things to my body- acne, extra hair, weight gain. On top of that, I get my period really rarely. Like, maybe three times a year. That may sound alright (the fewer periods the better, am I right ladies?), but when I do get them, I have incredible amounts of pain. Plus, and this is more important to me, my chances of getting pregnant naturally are pretty tiny.
One of the problems with getting a period so rarely (which is actually a condition called oligomenorrhea) is that it puts you at a higher risk of getting uterine cancer. So on top of all the rest of the horribleness that is PCOS, you are at a higher risk of cancer.
PCOS is pretty common. It’s estimated that between 5 and 10% of women of reproductive age have it. It’s the most common endocrine disorder for women in that age bracket. It’s also incurable.
But it is treatable.
One of the most common and effective treatments of the side-effects of PCOS is the Pill. It treats a bunch of the symptoms. My skin clears up. I lose weight. But, more importantly, I get my period regularly, which means it hurts less and, best of all, reduces my chance of getting endometrial cancer.
But Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan doesn’t care about any of that. He doesn’t care about preventing pain or reducing the risk of cancer. He wants to ban the oral conceptive pill because he thinks a fertilized egg should have all the protections of a human being.
You can see how ridiculous this is in my case. He would ban me from being able to access medical care I need because of a POTENTIAL fertilized egg. The fertilized egg doesn’t even exist. The fertilized egg has a very slim chance of ever existing naturally, due to my PCOS. But he’s so concerned about that potential, he’d prevent me from having access to the care I need.
And you know what, if I did want to have a kid, he’d like to sincerely limit my options there too, because he’d ban IVF.
Paul Ryan is an extremist. For all the talk about small government, he’d like to interfere with my doctor’s capacity to treat my chronic condition. That’s about as big as government gets.
Vote Obama in 2012. Do it for the women with PCOS who deserve access to medical care.