Veterans Day honors those who served in our military, yet today, many veterans in Louisiana do not have access to affordable health care.

These veterans fall into the “coverage gap” since Louisiana continues to refuse to help them by not accepting Medicaid expansion.

The general notion that all veterans have access to health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs system is incorrect. Not all veterans qualify for VA health care coverage because of eligibility laws that Congress passed.

The nature of a veteran’s discharge, service-related disabilities, length of service, income and the VA’s budget all can affect access to VA health care. Additionally, many eligible veterans live far from VA hospitals and clinics, preventing them from accessing the care they need.

According to a 2013 report by the Urban Institute, more than 10,000 uninsured Louisiana veterans and 4,000 of their spouses would qualify for health care coverage if the state elected to accept federal Medicaid dollars.

Our governor and legislators claim Louisiana cannot afford Medicaid expansion. We say that it is Louisiana’s moral duty to not leave one veteran behind.

Again we ask the governor, legislators and policymakers to honor, celebrate and support our veterans and their families as well as all other Louisiana citizens by expanding Medicaid without further delay.

Alma C. Stewart

health care professional

Baton Rouge