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Old 03-20-2010, 01:27 PM
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jriley1349 jriley1349 is offline

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Default Tammy Duckworth on Veterans and Healthcare

Putting the Concerns of Our Veterans and Our Troops to Rest

Posted by Tammy Duckworth on March 18, 2010 at 05:49 PM EDT

As Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, a constant concern for me is having our Veterans dragged into partisan politics. Unfortunately the debate over health reform has seen that happen far too many times, and at the VA we often have to correct misinformation and assure Veterans that the care they rely on will not be taken away from them.

One of the concerns we are hearing the most now is whether health reform will affect the care Veterans receive under the VA system.

Let me be unambiguous: The healthcare that Veterans receive through the VA system, including dependents of certain veterans enrolled in the CHAMPVA program, will be safe and sound under health reform. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs would continue to maintain sole authority over the system and for enhancing the quality and access for all eligible Veterans.

In addition, TRICARE will continue to be available for all eligible servicemen and women, and their families. Those who are covered by TRICARE would meet the shared responsibility requirement for individuals to have insurance, thereby exempting such members of the uniformed services and dependents from being assessed any sort of penalty. The President has made it clear publicly and to me that he is committed to ensuring that America’s servicemen and women have high quality care, and with health reform that commitment remains very much intact.

I have personally seen what a devastating medical condition can cost. Had I been injured on the freeway and not in combat, it is likely that I would be bankrupt even though I had medical insurance through my civilian employer. I personally receive my world class healthcare from the VA and as a dependent on my husband's Tricare eligibility. This bill is good for our nation and our Veterans and Service Members and their families can be reassured that their benefits are safe.

Tammy Duckworth is the Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs
Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran and former U.S. Army helicopter pilot whose severe combat wounds cost her both of her legs and damaged her right arm. She continues to serve as a Major in the Illinois Army National Guard along with her husband, Major Bryan W. Bowlsbey, a signal officer and fellow Iraq War veteran.
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