Opinion

ObamaCare harms our troops

You’ve probably read about ObamaCare’s harm to Snooki and more traditional interest groups like seniors and doctors. But what has gone unnoticed is ObamaCare’s harm to our troops.

In a time of war, when medical devices like prosthetic legs are critical to the care of injured service members, ObamaCare slaps a destructive 2.3% tax on medical devices. The majority of companies who make these devices are small businesses for whom this tax will consume a significant portion or all of their profit margins, leaving them with two options — both harmful for our troops.

The first option for these devices makers is to pass on the cost of the tax to consumers, thereby burdening the Veterans Affairs Department (VA). Given the VA’s limited budget, this will either lead to higher premiums for veterans enrolled in their insurance plan known as TriCare, or the Department will have to scale back other benefits it presently provides to veterans.

The second option for device makers is to reduce the funds they dedicate to research and development, leading to less innovation and fewer advances that enable a better quality of life for our injured service members.

Do we really want to send the message to our military service members that we want to increase their premiums, reduce their benefits, and cut back on the innovation that allows them to have a high quality of life? Of course not.

But that’s exactly what the Democratic majority has done. They even had the gall to defeat Senator Orrin Hatch’s amendment to exempt veterans and their health plans from the medical device tax that disproportionately affects them.

ObamaCare’s harm to veterans continues with its failure to institute a permanent solution to the Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR), which only pays physicians treating TriCare patients about 81% of private sector rates. Due to this failure, come this January the formula will subject these doctors to an additional 30% pay cut, which will force many of them to either dramatically reduce the number of veterans they see or refuse to see veterans altogether.

Veterans with Tricare plans will have their access to care jeopardized even further by ObamaCare’s expansion of coverage to 30 million Americans without a corresponding increase in the number of doctors who can see them. With an expected doctor shortage of 150,000 by 2025, physicians will have a greater ability to discriminate against who they will see. The patients they will discriminate against will be the ones with low-paying plans like TriCare.

Then, perhaps most shockingly, the provision in ObamaCare that allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26 excludes the children of military families. In this case, I actually believe Democrats when they say that this was merely an oversight, for, as Speaker Pelosi said, they had to pass the law before they could find out what was in it.

As of today, this discrepancy still hasn’t been fixed and even if and when it is, the damage unfortunately has already been done, with the message sent from Congress that while your military family sacrifices so much for our country, we don’t have the discipline to ensure you have the best of care, let alone receive the same treatment as the rest of the country.

Finally, ObamaCare creates problems that will affect the entire population, including our troops.

For example, the law does little to control rising health care costs, by and far Americans’ greatest concern with our health care system. ObamaCare is expected to raise costs due to its imposition of a myriad of mandates, regulations, and tax increases. Once again, the inevitable cost increases will burden the VA’s limited budget, forcing it to either increase TriCare premiums or reduce veterans’ other benefits.

Further, like the European systems on which ObamaCare is modeled, the uncontrollable cost increases that arise from unaccountable government programs will necessarily lead to the type of cruel rationing of life-saving care that Dr. Donald Berwick, the new administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), openly embraces. And don’t expect VA or TriCare patients to be spared.

While America believes our troops deserve only the best, the reality of ObamaCare is that it leaves our troops worse off, with one raw deal after another. Congress should waste no time in correcting the law’s harmful effects on those who defend our nation.

Alex Cortes is the Chairman of DeFundIt.org, an organization advocating for the de-funding of ObamaCare. Michael Grimm is a veteran and the Republican candidate for New York’s 13thCongressional District.