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States Can Stand Up for Veterans by Expanding Medicaid

November 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Roughly 215,000 veterans in 23 states are uninsured and denied Medicaid because their state has refused to take up health reform’s Medicaid expansion.  Half of them live in five states:  36,000 in Texas, 32,000 in Florida, 20,000 in Georgia, 17,000 in North Carolina, and 12,000 in Tennessee.

Most veterans get health coverage from their employer, but for those without access to job-based coverage, substantial gaps exist.  While some veterans receive coverage through the VA health system, not all qualify.

Health reform, however, has greatly expanded uninsured veterans’ access to health coverage.  Nearly 90 percent of non-elderly veterans who were uninsured before health reform would be eligible for Medicaid or subsidies to buy private coverage through the new insurance marketplaces, the Urban Institute projected in 2012 — if all states take up the Medicaid expansion.

Unfortunately, 23 states haven’t.  That’s left 215,000 of the nation’s poorest uninsured veterans in a coverage gap, where their income is too high for Medicaid under prior eligibility rules but too low for marketplace subsidies.

States that have expanded Medicaid are making the greatest progress in reducing the ranks of the uninsured, we’ve pointed out.  Meanwhile, states that haven’t taken up the expansion are denying health coverage for their poorest residents, including many uninsured men and women who have served our nation.

 


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