Veterans groups concerned over AHCA language

Georgia residents who suffer from preexisting medical conditions, have limited incomes or are former members of the U.S. armed forces were likely paying close attention on May 4 when the House of Representatives voted on the latest Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Lawmakers ended months of stalemate when they approved the American Health Care Act by a nail-bitingly narrow 217-213 vote, but the ayes and nays had barely been counted before partisan arguments erupted over who would benefit and who would suffer.

Many of these arguments centered on the millions of Americans that Democrats say will lose the coverage they currently enjoy under what is known as Obamacare, but a less publicized provision of the AHCA has some veterans groups worried. A previous version of the bill made it clear that veterans who are eligible for but not enrolled in VA medical programs would be able to apply for health care tax credits, but this language was removed from the legislation passed by the House of Representatives.

Republicans say that eligibility for health care tax credits is established by IRS rules and the language in question was removed from the amended bill because it was superfluous. However, Democrats responded by pointing out that the IRS rules only apply to the Affordable Care Act and not its possible replacement. The bill now heads to the Senate where most analysts believe it will be modified significantly, and a number of senators have already said that they plan to address and clear up any confusion over veterans' coverage.

Those who have served in the military deserve the thanks and respect of the American people and their elected officials, but they sometimes find it a struggle to obtain the benefits that they have sacrificed so much to earn. Attorneys with experience in this area could help veterans and their families to understand the qualification requirements of programs like Veterans Aid and Attendance, and they may advocate vigorously on their behalf when their applications are delayed or denied.

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