May 09, 2017

Duckworth, Tester, Nelson & Blumenthal Highlight Trumpcare’s Devastating Tax Hikes on Millions of Veterans


WASHINGTON, DC - Today, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) organized a press conference with Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT) and U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to urge Senate Republicans to oppose a provision in Trumpcare that would raise taxes on millions of Veterans and make it harder for them to afford healthcare. Despite the President's campaign pledge to "ensure our Veterans get the care they need wherever and whenever they need it," the Republican bill that passed the House with the President's support would prohibit anyone who is eligible for VA care from receiving tax credits, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled or able to access it. Video of the press conference is available here.

"Not only would Trumpcare kick tens of millions of Americans off of their health insurance, it would also raise taxes on millions of Veterans and make it harder for Veterans to get the care they deserve," said Duckworth. "Even for a President who is infamous for breaking his promises, this is a new low. Senate Republicans must change this bill because everyone who has worn the uniform of this great nation should be able to get the care they deserve."

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget office estimates that approximately 8 million Veterans are eligible for care at VA but not enrolled. Many instead depend on private health insurance with the help of tax credits and would be affected by this provision.

"We have a promise to uphold to our veterans in this country, and that includes the veterans in rural America," said Tester."Veterans in rural states like Montana rely on rural hospitals and clinics to help fill the coverage gap when the VA falls short. The health care bill that was passed by the House of Representatives threatens access and limits options for the folks who served our nation."

"These brave men and women who have served our country should be eligible for the same subsidies and tax credits as any other American," said Nelson.

"President Trump conducted an extraordinary show at the VA recently, promising veterans that their health care is going to be better than ever," said Blumenthal. "And what does Trumpcare do? It yanks tax credits away from veterans. Veterans are simply not going to stand for this doubletalk and deception. This measure is the height of hypocrisy. It ought to be a call to action for every veteran across the United States. They ought to be angry as hell."

As Duckworth explained in an op-ed last month in the Chicago Tribune, many Veterans choose to rely on private health insurance or they live in rural communities that don't have a convenient VA facility.Others only qualify for treatment at VA facilities for service-connected injuries but are unable to get comprehensive care at VA without paying for it themselves. Many more want to go to VA but are unable to access it due to means-testing, which in parts of Illinois affects Veterans making over $30,000.

Under current law, Veterans are eligible to receive the same health care tax credits as other Americans so long as they do not actually enroll in VA care. Republicans have recently claimed that a 2012 IRS Ruling clarifying Veteran tax credit eligibility under the Affordable Care Act would also protect Veterans should Trumpcare become law. But if Trumpcare repeals the Affordable Care Act, the IRS regulations related to the ACA would also be nullified, so a protection that exists today would likely not apply under Trumpcare. That could leave Veterans on the hook to pay thousands of dollars more each year.