On the eve of the federal government shutdown and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, 10 Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) advisory board members spent last Monday at the White House meeting with government officials and military nonprofit leaders.
MFAN members were there to lend their voices to the Joining Forces Veterans and Military Family Summit. Attendees were greeted by Dr. Jill Biden, who assured us that the Affordable Care Act will not affect veterans’ or active duty (TRICARE) health care systems.
Speakers included Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff; Tina Tchen, assistant to the president and chief of staff to the first lady; and Col. Ricardo Morales, director of Joining Forces. MFAN members and others present posed hard questions about veterans’ benefits and the rising rate of veteran suicides to officials with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense Health Affairs, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And we learned more about how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Better Business Bureau Military Line advocate for service members and military families. We also heard presentations from Blue Star Families, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (known as TAPS), the National Military Family Association, the American Military Partner Association, and the Military Officers Association of America about the great work those organizations are doing to support veterans, service members, and their families.
The final session of the day focused on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), particularly how it relates to the veteran, retiree, and active duty military communities. Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services emphasized that the veterans’ and active duty health care systems will not be affected by ACA. However, it is important for service members who are not retirement-eligible to understand that they will have to purchase health insurance if their new employer does not provide it, and that they can do so through ACA’s health care exchanges.