At Community Catalyst, we believe everyone should have a say in the decisions that affect their health. Many governors are now making decisions that affect the health of thousands of veterans and their families.

According to a report published by the Urban Institute, 1.3 million veterans of our armed forces currently do not have health insurance coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, more than 40 percent of these uninsured nonelderly veterans would gain health coverage. Being covered by Medicaid would not preclude veterans from using the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system if they qualify, and would allow them to gain access to greater health care choices at a lower cost.

However, more than half of all poor uninsured veterans (with incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level), are in states that may opt out of the Medicaid expansion. Because many states with large populations of veterans currently oppose expanding Medicaid, it’s a critical time to raise awareness among veterans who may qualify for Medicaid. In states such as Florida that are not committed to expanding Medicaid, and where military presence is particularly high, there are more than 40,000 uninsured veterans who will qualify if the program is expanded. Similarly, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas are all on the fence about expanding Medicaid, yet they have high numbers of uninsured veterans who stand to gain coverage under the option.

To help advocates engage the veteran community and encourage them to be a voice for supporting the Medicaid expansion, we’ve gathered resources in our fact sheet, Engaging Veterans in Medicaid Expansion Campaigns. It includes a summary of information that can be helpful to health care advocates as they engage veterans—and those who work with veterans—in building a meaningful and powerful campaign narrative that prioritizes access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve.

For many veterans, this is a time of transition – away from military life and back into a civilian one. Let’s honor our veterans by ensuring access to health insurance is just one more way to ease that transition.

— Jeanelle Roman, National Urban Fellow