Military health care must be revamped

The American Legion is calling for a significant expansion of health care systems administered by VA and DoD.

In resolutions adopted by its National Executive Committee, The American Legion reiterated its long-standing positions affecting the funding of VA health care and extending its coverage to veterans’ family members.

Specifically, the Legion favors, in the words of its resolution, “allowing Medicare Reimbursement for VA as a realistic health-care coverage for enrolled, Medicare-eligible veterans seeking treatment of non-service-connected medical conditions in VA health care facilities.” This would not only benefit a greater number of veterans, but provide VA with an additional revenue stream.

The Legion also encourages Congress to “allow all eligible veterans, dependents and beneficiaries, especially those who are either uninsured or under-insured, to enroll in the VA’s integrated health-care delivery system.”

In its resolution, adopted during the organization’s annual convention meeting this week in Louisville, Ky., the Legion emphasized that it considers VA health care “the best care anywhere.”

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is expected to discuss the Legion resolution with National Commander David K. Rehbein when the two meet tomorrow. Shinseki is also scheduled to address convention attendees tomorrow morning.

DoD’s Medical Health Care System was the subject of another similar Legion resolution. Recognizing the high quality of military health care, the Legion favors expanding it, too, and “supports health-care reform that assures all active-duty servicemembers, members of the Reserve components, military retirees to include Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) and Chapter 61 retirees, and their families, especially those who are uninsured or under-insured, have timely access to quality health care within DoD’s Medical Health Care System.”

Each resolution concludes with an admonition to avoid absorbing the veterans or military systems into any national health-care reform program. Rehbein got a personal promise to that effect when he met with President Barack Obama on Aug. 4.