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IN THE NEWS: Joe’s fight to protect Medicaid and affordable healthcare a fight for veterans as well, Vietnam vet writes in op-ed

A recent op-ed in the Monticello Herald Journal from Vietnam veteran and former Indiana House Majority leader Russ Stilwell says Joe Donnelly’s effort to protect Hoosiers’ health care is part of his fight for veterans from a “consistent champion” whom “veterans can’t afford to lose.”

Joe has constantly fought for veterans’ health care by introducing and enacting the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act to address the scourge of opioid abuse among veterans, supporting the VA Mission Act that President Trump recently signed into law, and by bringing new VA clinics to St. Joseph County, Terre Haute, and to Western Indianapolis.

As Stilwell notes, though, millions of our veterans use Medicaid as their primary source of care. By protecting Medicaid and fighting against GOP sabotage of our nation’s health care system, Joe is standing up again for veterans against Washington special interests who hope to cut their health care.

From the Monticello Herald JournalWant to honor a vet? Help protect their health care

Of the 20 million U.S. veterans, only slightly more than 9 million are enrolled in the VA health care system. (Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration and Veterans Health Administration, 2017)

Nearly 1 in 10 veterans use Medicaid as their primary source of health care, and many more use Medicaid to supplement the care they receive through the VA. Up to 8 million veterans who qualify for VA health care choose not to use it as their primary source of care because of long wait times, lack of complete coverage and systemic problems at the VA.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided funding for states to expand Medicaid, drastically improving healthcare for many Americans, including veterans who rely on it. A recent study found the Medicaid expansion led to a 42 percent decrease in uninsured vets between 2013 and 2015.

But since taking office, the Trump Administration, reinforced by the entire Hoosier GOP House delegation and only GOP U.S. Senator, Todd Young, have relentlessly whittled away at the ACA.

Missing from that list is Sen. Joe Donnelly, who has been a consistent champion of veterans and of the need to provide affordable health care to all Americans. …

Our veterans can’t afford to lose a friend like Joe Donnelly. Here’s a quick look at what he’s fought against and what our existing GOP have tried to do:

Cut Medicaid funding by nearly $1 trillion, which would have affected nearly more than 75 million Americans, including 2 million veterans – 4,700 of them Hoosier Veterans.

Diminish a provision of the ACA that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, which many veterans experience.

Remove the ACA requirement that all health insurance plans cover a set of essential services including surgery, rehabilitation and mental health treatment, which many veterans need.

Allow insurance companies to once again the ability deny someone coverage or charge them more for services that treat issues like injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veterans have always had our backs. Whether it is the VA or the ACA, we should have theirs.

Thankfully, Joe Donnelly doesn’t need that lesson. And he doesn’t deserve the target the GOP has on his back. I hope you join me in November in defending Joe and our veterans.