Let’s respect our veterans

10 years ago

By Sen. Troy Jackson
(D-Allagash)

    There are roughly 134,000 Mainers without health insurance, including thousands of veterans. There are many steps we should be taking to make sure that access to affordable health care is available for our fellow Mainers, including our veterans.

    The most important of these initiatives lately has been our fight to accept federal dollars to expand access to affordable health care for nearly 70,000 Mainers. This provision is an important component of the Affordable Care Act. Under the deal, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs for this expansion for the first three years, then ratchet down to no less than 90 percent of the cost. So far, 26 states have accepted these federal funds, including several with conservative Republican governors, such as Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
    It’s a good deal for states. Here in Maine, accepting this deal would inject an additional $250 million of federal funding into our economy and create more than 3,000 jobs. It will reduce costs for both our people and our hospitals, and save the state $690 million over the next ten years.
    Most importantly, it will provide nearly 70,000 of our neighbors, including 3,000 veterans, with access to health care.
    While many people think veterans are receiving the health care they need, access to health care through the Veterans Administration is limited and based on varying criteria. This leaves a gap, and as a result, many veterans aren’t able to get the care they need.
     I hope my colleagues in the legislature will join me in honoring veterans when the legislature reconvenes in January by supporting a measure that gives them access to affordable health care. It’s the least we can do to show our respect and gratitude for their service.