Jack Bergman's attempt to privatize healthcare, defund the VA, and deny coverage to service members is more than unwise; it puts Veterans' lives in real danger.
We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their service to our country. It's our responsibility to ensure they receive the care they deserve.
Unfortunately, Rep. Jack Bergman, the ranking member of the Veteran's Affairs Subcommittee on Health, voted against the Ensuring Veterans Smooth Transition (EVEST) Act. This bipartisan bill aims to prevent Veteran suicide by simplifying the transition process for service members out of the military and enrolling them in VA healthcare.
Most suicide attempts by those who are or will become Veterans occur following separation from military service. Veterans are most vulnerable in the first three months following separation from military service. VA Clinicians can assist by helping Veterans reconnect with their communities and providing need-based mental health treatment after separation.
Immediately enrolling them in the VA is commonsense legislation that will save thousands of lives.
Bergman's vote goes against the wishes of his Republican colleagues and nearly every Veteran advocacy group.
The EVEST Act has gained support from many organizations, including:
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Disabled American Veterans
Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs
American Federation of Government Employees
Veterans Health Policy Institute
American Psychological Association
These organizations have been advocating for automatic enrollment in VA healthcare for Veterans for a long time, and the EVEST Act is a step in that direction.
If passed by the Senate, House Resolution 4673 will automatically enroll approximately 58,000 additional veterans in 2024, with around 250,000 Veterans estimated to remain enrolled by 2028. The Congressional Budget Office predicts these veterans would receive care with an annual cost savings of $3,900.
Despite the potential benefits of the EVEST Act, Rep. Bergman failed to provide any rationale or explanation for his "No" vote. It is the duty of a Representative to educate and explain legislation and his votes to his constituents, which he failed to do.
This is one of many disappointing votes by Rep. Bergman that prioritizes the interests of private healthcare corporations over the needs of our Veterans. Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula need a representative who will listen to our Veterans and their advocates.
We need someone who will put special interests aside and work to ensure that all Americans receive the care and support they deserve, especially those who risked their lives in service to our country.
I am steadfast in my commitment to fight for our Veterans and put their needs first.
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After receiving three advanced degrees (Medical Doctor, Master of Social Work, and Master in Public Health), Dr. Lorinser worked as a social worker in a Veterans Affairs Hospital and as a physician at KI Sawyer Air Force Base. He has practiced family medicine in Michigan's 1st District for three decades before becoming a State Department diplomat and a public health medical director.