CIVITAS: Cooper Taking Advantage of Veterans to Push Medicaid Expansion

RALEIGH – The ends justify the means, as Machiavelli wrote in The Prince, and especially so when it comes to Democrats expanding government. Such is the case with Governor Roy Cooper’s satiable appetite for expanding Medicaid in North Carolina (the end) justifying lying about benefits for veterans and leveraging their stature for political gain (the means).

From Civitas‘ Leah Byers:

Proponents of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina – led by Gov. Roy Cooper – have clearly demonstrated a willingness to distort the narrative to garner support for their side. Advocates for expansion have twisted their words to make it seem as though children would benefit from expansion (they wouldn’t). Advocates have capitalized on the tragedy of the opioid crisis to gain political support for their pet policy project (although expansion states still struggle with this problem).

But this time, the Cooper administration has taken the misleading rhetoric a step too far.

Cooper has long claimed that thousands of veterans in North Carolina would be eligible for Medicaid under expansion. The governor originally claimed 23,000 veterans would be affected but his administration has since been using the estimate of 12,000. (These estimates appear to come from two studies by left-leaning research groups, and the vast difference between them should raise eyebrows, but that’s a question for another day.)

Now, the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) – under the control of the Cooper administration – is doubling down on the narrative that our state’s veterans would benefit from expansion. DMVA’s August newsletter featured the issue as its top story. […]”

The problem with this assertion, as Byers points out, it is demonstrably false. Not just inflated, or a difference of degree, but totally false. Does the Cooper administration realize they are promoting a provably false narrative about Medicaid expansion and the veterans population? It’s hard to imagine they don’t realize the mechanics of the expansion proposal and the existing landscape, but, just in case, Byers lays it out for them.

“Most of the total population of people who would be newly-eligible for Medicaid under expansion already have insurance (63 percent) or qualify for subsidized plans of which they are not taking advantage (11 percent). But what about the 12,000 veterans? Turns out, Cooper’s talking point on this one is even more misleading because nearly all low-income veterans who would qualify for Medicaid under expansion already qualify for health benefits through the federal Veterans Administration (VA) health care program.

The exceptions to the VA health care eligibility include veterans who received Other than Honorable, Bad Conduct, or Dishonorable Discharges. Estimates suggest that these categories collectively account for less than 2.5 percent of veterans nationally. Recently, the VA expanded certain health benefits to those groups, as well.

VA health care sets income limits based on cost-of-living differences across counties. The lowest income limits in the state apply to 37 of the 100 counties in the state. Even the lowest county income thresholds for VA health care are significantly higher than the Medicaid expansion thresholds – over $15,000 more for veterans with no dependents, and nearly $12,000 more for a family of four.

In the three highest cost-of-living counties (Wake, Johnston, and Franklin), single veterans qualify for VA health care who make three times the income limit for Medicaid expansion. A veteran in a family of four can make double the income threshold for Medicaid expansion and still qualify for VA health care.

In short, virtually every North Carolina veteran that would be eligible for Medicaid expansion is already eligible for VA benefits. […]”

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Not only is the Cooper administration pimping out veterans to advance its political agenda, it is ignoring the fact that (by their estimates) more than 10,000 veterans — veterans that are entitled to VA benefits — haven’t been connected to the VA system in our state.

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That begs the question why the state agency that is specifically designed to advocate for the interest of veterans is not spending its effort on servicing the thousands of veterans that don’t currently get the healthcare coverage they’re entitled to.

None of that matters to the Cooper administration, because apparently the end of expanding Big Government justifies taking advantage of our veterans in their eyes.

Read more at Civitas.

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