Commentary

Health care reforms should benefit everyone — including veterans

July 18, 2021 5:40 am
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(Photo: Nevada Department of Veterans Services Facebook)

There are currently 19 million US veterans, and as another Independence Day has come and gone, we must ask ourselves what is going on with these veterans, and America’s treatment of them. It has been a hard year for all of us, especially trying to stay safe during the global pandemic. Some veterans need to take certain prescription drugs and with the pandemic it was even harder to access them. As prescription drug prices continue to skyrocket, how can veterans who don’t have healthcare afford them?

American veterans like me understand what it’s like to fight for the basics. After all, millions of veterans have sacrificed and contributed in countless ways to protect freedoms, ensure security and save lives through the years. But, as we all learned during the pandemic, sometimes simply protecting the status quo does more harm than good. 

Although there has been some change, including a new administration, we must still continue to fight for affordable healthcare. We cannot continue to have people skipping doses of their prescriptions because they can’t afford them, or having to choose between our health and our everyday bills. About 9 million veterans get health coverage through the Veterans Health Administration, including myself, but many veterans are still uninsured, have private insurance, or are enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid if they are eligible. 

Personally, I have been lucky enough that Nevada has a better system in the Veterans Health Administration than in other states. We have better care in the state which has helped me be able to afford my prescriptions as they aren’t as expensive. I have also been covered for treatments that I had to receive when I had breast cancer, as well as surgeries, and I will also be getting reconstructive surgery soon. However, not every veteran is so lucky, and that is why we must continue to fight for better healthcare for veterans just as we have fought hard for this country. 

It’s important to continue to fight for veterans who don’t have access to healthcare or who have had a hard time trying to enroll in the Veterans Health Administration. Every state also varies in quality because of the fact that they don’t have the same access to facilities. Until every veteran has the same opportunity to be enrolled into a good healthcare plan we can’t stop fighting.

Drug price reforms that would enable Medicare to negotiate lower prices and then extend those prices to everyone, like the Lower Drug Costs Now Act in the House, are common sense measures that would benefit everyone — including veterans. The bill also has provisions that would hold drug corporations accountable for jacking up prices higher than the rate of inflation and put caps on out-of-pocket costs. 

We are counting on Congress to protect our health by freeing us from pharmaceutical price-gouging that puts our lives at risk, and it’s time for lawmakers to lower drug prices now.

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Mary Dungan
Mary Dungan

Mary Dungan is an Air Force veteran who lives in Las Vegas and gets healthcare through the Veterans Health Administration.

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