Kevin Cramer forced to defend increased health insurance costs for veterans

GOP health care bill would increase insurance costs for 8 million veterans nationwide


(BISMARCK, ND) – At a public event, Congressman Kevin Cramer was forced to defend provisions of the deeply unpopular Republican health care bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would increase health insurance costs for an estimated 8 million veterans nationwide. 

“The AHCA would remove protections previously enacted under the [Affordable Care Act] for pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, the creation of high-risk polls, and protections for capped prescription costs,” said Jamie Stewart, a disabled National Guard veteran, who spoke to Cramer at the event. “This isn’t my opinion. These are opinions from organizations like Kaiser Family Foundation and AARP.”   

Stewart also shared that he suffers from a “chronic and debilitating” autoimmune illness resulting from an adverse reaction he had to a vaccine that was administered during his service. Stewart added that, because he is unable to receive the medical care he needs through the VA, he faces significant out-of-pocket costs.   

Over the last several months, Congressman Cramer has served as a key architect of the Republican health care bill, which would allow insurance companies to once again deny coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions and removes tax credits provided to veterans to help them purchase health insurance on the private market. As a result, according to the CBO, approximately 8 million veterans across the country would face the threat of increased health insurance costs.

North Dakota is home to over 56,000 veterans who would be especially impacted by the removal of these tax credits because many live in rural areas where it is difficult to access VA care, and so they choose to rely on private-market health care instead.

“I want to know what you expect me to do?” asked Stewart at the event. “If these measures become law, I’ll have to decide to either go into bankruptcy because I won’t be able to afford the increased premiums, or die because I can’t afford the necessary care.”

“I don’t personally believe you will have to make that choice,” Cramer responded before moving on to the next question.

# # #


GOP health care bill would strip away protections to ensure 8 million veterans receive tax credits: The agreement comes in a week in which Senate Democrats are standing apart from Trump on a separate issue affecting veterans, the GOP bill passed by the House to repeal and replace the nation’s health care law. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., warned the House measure would strip away explicit protections to ensure that as many as 8 million veterans who are eligible for VA care but opt to use private insurance would still receive tax credits. Many veterans use a private insurer if they feel a VA facility is too far away, or if they don’t qualify for fuller VA coverage because they have higher incomes or ailments unrelated to their time in service, said Duckworth, a combat veteran who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm during the Iraq war.

Cramer has a history of using veterans to further his political ambitions: You may recall in 2014 when Cramer unethically used the Veterans Cemetery in North Dakota for a campaign ad in his race against George Sinner. The ad used veterans’ headstones as if they were props and threatened funding for the cemetery. Cramer later took down the ad from TV after increased pressure but would not apologize for his distasteful act […] Cramer used veterans for political campaign purposes similar to the way he has used political talking points against Obamacare to win elections. Unfortunately after winning, he has decided his campaign against Obamacare was more important than his campaign for veterans. In his rush to repeal and replace Obamacare, he knowingly made it more difficult for millions of American veterans to afford access to healthcare outside of the VA he claims to despise.  

Quinnipiac: 21% Approve Of Revised GOP Health Plan: Only 21 percent of American voters approve of the Republican health care plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, a slight improvement over the 17 percent who approved of the first health care plan in March, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Overall, the current health plan goes down 56 – 21 percent. Except for an anemic 48 – 16 percent support among Republicans, every listed party, gender, educational, age and racial group opposes the plan, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. Under the new plan, their health insurance costs will go up, 42 percent of voters say, while 11 percent say they will go down and 37 percent say insurance costs will stay the same. American voters approve 64 – 32 percent of the current law which prevents health insurance companies from raising premiums on people with pre-existing conditions.