Trump rejected a proposal to cut military health care by $2.2bn, though has pursued several policies which would arguably damage military health care
President Trump tweeted that a proposal by Pentagon officials to slash Military Healthcare by 2.2 billion dollars has been firmly rejected by him. Politico reported that the United States Department of Defense (DoD)officials were readying the proposal to be presented to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The military health system is used by about 9.5 million active-duty personnel, military retirees, and their dependents. It operates hundreds of facilities around the world. Two senior defense officials reportedly told Politico that "the cuts would have effectively gutted the Pentagon’s health care system during a nationwide pandemic." Top DoD leaders argued that the country's private health system can pick up the slack from cuts. But some officials under the Trump administration had previously warned the Pentagon against earlier cuts, saying the civilian health system would not be able to absorb the military's potential needs, reported Politico.
Trump also passed the Mission Act of 2018, the biggest and most comprehensive VA health care reform in decades. The Veterans’ Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 was the last significant reforms for VA health care.
While the Trump administration has delivered measures to protect the military healthcare system, they have also intended to pass laws which adversely affect veterans’ access to health care. According to the FAS, not all veterans are eligible for, enrolled in, or even fully covered by the VA’s health care system. In reality, most veterans and their families depend on private health insurance or public insurance, such as Medicaid, to which nearly 1.8 million veterans turn for coverage. According to a recent report by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of uninsured veterans decreased nearly 40 percent between 2013 and 2015, largely due to the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid coverage. However, the Trump administration is keen on repealing the ACA, making many veterans extremely vulnerable. Under previous congressional repeal proposals, nearly half a million veterans would have lost Medicaid benefits by 2026. The latest ACA repeal effort—referred to as the Graham-Cassidy bill after its two lead sponsors—is even more radical: It stops funding for the ACA’s Medicaid expansion after 2026 and caps the remaining Medicaid program. This proposal is estimated to cost 579,000 veterans their Medicaid coverage by 2027. Moreover, Graham-Cassidy would allow states to waive essential health benefits (EHB). Many veterans and their families depend on it to support their needs resulting from service-connected disabilities and to recover from illness.