A Senate Republican who has pushed against his own party members to expand Medicaid coverage says he will propose an expansion bill just for veterans.
Senator Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) will again this year propose legislation to offer coverage to those in the Medicaid “coverage gap,” which includes those whose incomes amount to between 19- and 138-percent of what the federal government calls living in poverty. Republican leaders have said Medicaid expansion will not advance this year.
Today Silvey announced he would also offer a separate bill that would extend coverage to veterans and their families who fall in that gap.
“When I proposed, and [veterans] groups were kind enough to endorse the expansion of coverage that would help the veterans, I did not want to leave them high and dry when those bills probably get filibustered and probably die on the floor of the Senate,” said Silvey.
“Of course [veterans] will be covered in the other health care proposals that we’re doing, but we wanted to do one specifically targeted to them,” Silvey said.
Silvey says of the spouses of veterans alone, an estimated 22-thousand fall into the coverage gap.
Dewey Riehn with the Veterans of Foreign Wars says Veterans Administration coverage is limited in how long it lasts and who it extends to.
“Two years or three years or sometimes up to five years. As an individual you can get healthcare at VA. There is nothing for the family,” said Riehn.
Asked whether he is trying to pressure fellow Republicans by creating a choice between opposing Medicaid coverage or supporting veterans, Silvey said, “I think the point is we have a problem and it needs to be solved.”