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By Adam Nickas, Executive Director, Tennesseans for a Responsible Future

This Veterans Day, Tennesseans will stand united in saluting our nation’s heroes for their service to our country. However, many may not know that thousands of our state’s veterans are living every day without access to healthcare coverage.

Some are surprised to learn not all veterans are able to access healthcare through the Veterans Affairs (VA) system. Even for those who have access to VA care, there may be additional fees for treatment of a non-service related illness or injury. Here in Tennessee, there are an estimated 24,000 veterans struggling without healthcare, and they deserve a comprehensive coverage solution.

A Tennessee-tailored, conservative healthcare solution can help our veterans and thousands of other hardworking Tennesseans who fall into the “Medicaid gap” – earning too much to qualify for TennCare, but too little to afford healthcare on the exchanges or private marketplace – find a path to coverage and a healthier future.

Research from the University of Tennessee estimates a comprehensive solution would create jobs and grow our economy, while a growing body of research across the country indicates closing the Medicaid gap would result in a healthier Tennessee.

Governor Bill Haslam, and many Republican and Democratic leaders in the state legislature, have acknowledged the importance of addressing this issue. In fact, a task force launched by House Speaker Beth Harwell has recently been working on such a solution, known as the 3-Star Healthy Plan, which aims to increase access to healthcare coverage for Tennesseans in the Medicaid gap.

While the details of the 3-Star Healthy Plan continue to be worked out, we know a homegrown, conservative solution will result in benefits for Tennessee’s economy, our working poor and our veterans.

Just as our veterans accepted their call of duty to serve and protect our county, it is our duty to help our brave service men and women find a path to comprehensive healthcare coverage.

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