Congressman Tom Latham says the deal’s nearly sealed and America’s part-time soldiers will soon get health care benefits. Soldiers in the Guard and Reserve do not receive federally-paid health care unless they’re called to active duty, and Latham says a budget bill that should clear the U.S. House tomorrow will extend the same health benefits to part-time soldiers that full-time military personnel get today.
Latham says it really made a huge difference when he and a bipartisan group of 85 members of the House wrote a letter, saying they believed the federal government should provide health care coverage to members of the Guard and Reserve. Latham began pushing to get health care benefits for part-time soldiers in February. He was later joined in the effort by key Senators like Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Senator who’s in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
Latham says it’s a “great, great victory” for Guard and Reserve members who’ve “done so much for our country.” Critics said extending health care coverage to the Guard and Reserve was too expensive, and Latham admits it was a tough sell to some in Washington.
Latham says he had to be “somewhat of a pain in the posterior” of key lawmakers to get approval of the provision. Latham says a lack of health insurance is most acute among Guard and Reserve units in the Midwest, where 40 percent of the part-time soldiers are uninsured. He has argued it’s a matter of national security, because many soldiers who’re called to active duty need to resolve health issued before they can start their full-time duty.