The National Guard are an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of them have potentially been exposed to infected civilians, making it a particularly dangerous and important time to serve.
But according to The Daily Beast, the guard has been deployed in a way that prevents them from being eligible for the military’s health care system.
“The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs,” wrote senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman. “But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE — think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform — to cover them.”
Making matters worse, many members of the guard get their health insurance through their normal employers — and may have lost their jobs in the process of being deployed, meaning they are now left with nothing at a time when their service is putting their lives at risk. Those who lost coverage may be eligible to shop on Obamacare’s exchanges, as loss of insurance is a qualified life event, but many may not have the money to do so.
“Leadership at the Pentagon, either knowingly or unknowingly, are putting soldiers and airmen, in my opinion, in harm’s way without them having proper medical coverage,” said Ret. Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), a vulnerable senator standing for re-election in a state with a massive military population, wrote to President Donald Trump saying, “During this time, we should do all we can to support the men and women being asked to assist our nation’s response to this pandemic and ensure that they are put on orders long enough to make them eligible for TRICARE.”
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