Health Care for Part-Time Soldiers Will Benefit Midwest Guard/Reserve

December 19, 2005

Part-time soldiers in the Guard and Reserve do not receive federally-paid health care unless they’re called to active duty, and Congressman Tom Latham says a budget bill that should clear the U.S. House soon will extend the same health benefits to part-time soldiers that full-time military personnel get today.

Latham 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. Later his efforts were supported by key Senators like Hillary Clinton and Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina who’s in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

Critics of extending health care coverage to the Guard and Reserve said the coverage was too expensive. Latham admits it was a tough sell to some in Washington to win approval for the provision.

According to the Congressman, 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. Latham argued it’s a matter of national security, because many soldiers who are called to active duty need to resolve health care issues before they can start their full-time duty.

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