Medicaid Expansion Benefits Veterans and the Economy

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Thousands of uninsured veterans and their families in Michigan will gain access to healthcare if the Legislature expands the state’s Medicaid program to 138% of the federal poverty level. For a single person, that’s just over $15,800 in 2013. In addition, many more veterans with only Veterans Affairs healthcare would be able to supplement their VA coverage with Medicaid.

To uninsured vets, the expansion of Medicaid would mean access to comprehensive healthcare, including: preventive and dental care, physical and occupational therapy, substance abuse treatment and mental health services.

VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Michigan has a veteran population of approximately 711,600. Of those, 44,000 are uninsured and another 23,000 have only VA coverage. Family members of uninsured veterans total around 29,000.

Not all veterans have access to the VA healthcare system when they return home. Eligibility for the VA healthcare system is based on priority-based formulas that consider factors such as the nature of a veteran’s discharge from military service, length of service, service-related disabilities and income level. Even qualifying veterans may not have access to VA healthcare if existing VA health facilities are located too far from their homes – as is often the case with veterans living in rural areas.

The expansion of Medicaid would extend healthcare to vets who are unable to gain access to the VA healthcare system, and who do not have access to health insurance through their employers, their spouses or through other means.

VETERANS IN RURAL COUNTIES

There are approximately 172,200 veterans  living in the state’s 57 rural counties. Only 19 of those  rural counties have a VA facility of any type – nearly all of which are outpatient clinics that partner with Veterans Affairs to provide health services not requiring an overnight stay. Only Dickinson County has a VA Medical Center that provides extensive medical services, and only Delta and Grand Traverse counties have Vet Centers that provide comprehensive mental health services.

The expansion of Medicaid would benefit all currently uninsured veterans in the state who earn under 138% FPL. Veterans living in rural areas of the state would particularly benefit, as they would have access to comprehensive healthcare even if there is no VA health facility close to their homes.

Uninsured veterans are more likely than insured veterans to:

— Have served recently (since 1990);
— Be under 45 years of age;
— Have lower levels of education (high school diploma or less);
— Be unemployed or underemployed (11.2% unemployment rate);
— Earn low wages (many earning under 138% FPL);
— Have unmet medical needs, including chronic health conditions and mental problems that
interfere with their ability to work.