June 05, 2005

Still Not Supporting the Troops

National Guard and Reserve families whose loved ones are in Iraq have already given more for this war than most of us ever will. Many of them have discovered that military pay isn't matching the civilian wages they've lost. Then Congress voted to make it harder for them to declare bankruptcy if it all gets to be too much. Now it seems that they're even being shorted on health coverage.

... "I called a bunch of doctors, and not one of them took [Tricare, military health insurance for active duty forces]," said Noriega, a Houston resident whose husband was mobilized by the Texas National Guard and sent to Afghanistan last year.

"I went three weeks trying to figure out how to get an antibiotic-resistant infection treated," said [Melissa] Noriega. "Finally my husband's cousin, who is a doctor, treated me for free."

... "We stopped taking it three or four years ago," said Susan Blue, a neurologist and president of the Tarrant County Medical Society in Fort Worth. "Reimbursement rates are not high these days with anyone, but the military was the first one to go to a point that it wasn't feasible financially to accept it anymore."

... U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich., a physician, recently issued a call for doctors nationwide to accept Tricare as "a patriotic duty." It's hard for physicians to get past the reimbursement rates, which are tied to Medicare's rates, with a 5 percent cut expected in January.

The article explains that finding a provider who will take Tricare isn't as difficust in areas where there are permanent military bases, and of course it covers military physicians. The problem for Guard and Reserve families is that they don't always live near a base, and the same doctors who've quit taking Medicare in droves aren't lining up to take Tricare.

This is a) yet another problem that would be solved by universal health care, as well as b) yet another example showing that Republican politicians' love for our troops starts in their speeches and ends at their pocketbooks. This blowhard Rep. Schwarz wants everybody to do their patriotic duty but his own party; the party responsible for sucking money for medical care into a black hole of tax cuts for the wealthy, responsible for destroying every diplomatic solution to Iraq, responsible for alienating allies that might have sent troops to back us up, and responsible for denying proper care to the men and women who are making the biggest sacrifices. Some veterans of this war are already turning up at homeless shelters, and I'd like to know whose patriotic duty Rep. Schwarz thinks it is to take care of them.

This is the Republicans' idea of a culture of personal responsibility: They want the rest of the country to take personal responsibility for the outcomes of their shortsighted and disastrous screw-ups. Thanks a bunch.

Posted by natasha at June 5, 2005 12:00 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |