Health-care reform questions answered

Peter Gaytan, executive director of The American Legion's Washington office, was a featured guest March 27 on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" news program. For the first 10 minutes, host Pedro Echevarria asked Gaytan questions about the impact of health-care reform legislation on veterans. Gaytan then answered questions from callers.

Gaytan told Echevarria that The American Legion works closely with Congress on veterans' health-care issues, including TRICARE (DoD's contracted health-care benefits program for servicemembers, military retirees, and their families.) He allayed fears that veterans and their spouses might lose their TRICARE coverage as the result of health-care reform, and said the Legion is working to make the program even more attractive to physicians and other private health-care providers.

Veterans from across America called in to discuss several issues with Gaytan, including the VA disability claims backlog and the overall quality of VA health care. He said VA's patient load was increasing, and The American Legion's "System Worth Saving" program is making sure that all veterans continue to receive high-quality health care from VA.

While some callers gave high marks to VA, one caller complained that he had to wait up to six hours to be seen by a VA doctor. Gaytan urged him and other veterans with similar problems to contact American Legion service officers in their states, who could assist them.

Responding to another caller's mental-health concerns, Gaytan said DoD needs to collaborate more closely with VA in treating PTSD and other mental-health issues among veterans, because these problems also have serious effects on spouses and children.

Gaytan's appearance on "Washington Journal" is available for viewing at C-SPAN's Web site. The Gaytan segment begins at approximately the 2:19:00 mark.