By Robert Wick, published as a letter to the Editor, East Hampton Star on May 25th, 2017
As a veteran myself, I’ve never particularly understood, why being a veteran makes one any more qualified to hold a public office than a non-veteran. Be that as it may, Congressman Zeldin proudly advertises his veteran credentials. So, I was very dismayed by his vote for the recent health bill passed by the House that threatens to strip tax credits from up to seven million veterans. The bill offers all of us tax credits that we can use to buy private insurance, but only if we are not eligible for other low-cost government health care options. So, here’s the catch for the estimated seven million veterans who qualify for VA health care benefits: If they elect not to take VA health care benefits, they would be ineligible for AHCA assistance.
Proponents of the AHCA conceded that the bill threatened veterans with the loss of health care coverage in this way, and so a provision had been inserted to exempt veterans. However, in the final bill, it was removed because its inclusion would have required Senate approval by 60 votes, something they apparently didn’t want to risk, instead of a simple majority. A bit of inside baseball – indeed; but the upshot for veterans is simple – the possible loss of tax credits for up to 7 million veterans, and yet Rep. Zeldin endorsed it. Who is Rep. Zeldin serving with this kind of vote? Certainly, not our veterans.