Technical Sargent Layne Wilson spent twenty-seven years in the Utah Air National Guard before he shot his mouth off regarding a same-sex wedding at the chapel at West Point. This lead Wilson to be reprimanded and eventually have his reenlistment contract shortened from six years to one year. While Todd Starnes of FOX News is focusing in on that part of the story, what if this wasn’t the story at all? What if Wilson didn’t even really care all that much about being reprimanded to make a big deal of it on his social media?
Digging a bit deeper, what we find is a heartbreaking story involving Tech Sargent Wilson.
Back in 2012, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, but that is alright. He has insurance through United Healthcare for Veterans, and he’ll have that even if he is no longer a member of the National Guard. After all, most National Guards have other jobs.
A quick perusal of Wilson’s social media finds no mention of his trouble with the Utah Air National Guard in December on the grounds of his being anti-gay from December till June and he only mentions the incident this month.
The problem is, back in January, UHV announced that “Recent changes to the TRICARE policy now requires TRS and TRR beneficiaries to establish an automated method for payment of monthly premiums and discontinues the acceptance of checks as a form of monthly payment.” They explained that members had to set up either an electric funds transfer from a bank account or a recurring credit card payment in order to keep their benefits.
What’s more, UHV announced that “For TRS & TRR beneficiaries, failure to comply with the automated method of payment requirement will result in suspension of coverage and a 12 month lockout will be applied from the last paid-through date.”
The effective date for this to go through appears to have been April 2013. He should have known by May, but given the issues with his wife’s cancer, it is quite possible it slipped his mind or got lost in the shuffle. What is more, for many people dealing with cancer, automatic payments can be problematic as often times they have to shuffle bills and pay things when they can not when the companies demand, and most will do anything they can to protect the insurance that they have.
On 24 June, Wilson posted via social media, that “United Healthcare for Veterans suspended my medical health insurance on June 10 without notifying me. The are stating that I did not comply with their electronic fund transfer(EFT) rule that no one has been able to quote to me. I did not find out until Friday that this had happened.”
His wife was set to go in to have more followup treatments and scans and visit the oncologist. Wilson noted that the Electronic Fund Transfer Act may have been violated by UHV. He noted that:
No person may –
(1) Condition the extension of credit to a consumer on such consumer’s repayment by means of preauthorized EFTs; or
(2) Require a consumer to establish an account for receipt of EFTs with a particular financial institution as a condition of employment or receipt of a government benefit.
In a comment on that post, Wilson vowed to take the story to the national media. He vowed to take it to FOX News and Bill O’Reilly.
What he got was the story being picked up by Tedd Starnes, the notorious purveyor of fake Christian oppression stories. Starnes has not mentioned in any of his stories about this particular incident that Wilson may have illegally lost his insurance. Instead of making this a story about a man fighting the insurance companies and their evil policies, Starnes made it all about Wilson’s faith, which appears to be Mormon.
It is quite likely that, had Wilson gone back to his superiors in the military, said something about how he was sorry for shooting his mouth off to a superior officer, and said that he would strive to do better and comply with the laws of the military, his contract would have been reinstated back to the full six years. According to one military veteran, that is quite likely how things would have worked out. Instead, he went to FOX News where he is being used by Starnes to hype the non-existent oppression of Christians in the military.
Heck, even LezGetReal could get behind Wilson on fighting what could very well be an illegal move by the insurance company.
Since losing his insurance, Wilson has been going further and further off the deep end with the Tea Party stuff attacking President Barack Obama and claiming that he was booted from the Utah Air National Guard for his religious beliefs. The suit to get his full six year contract reinstated is unlikely to work given the restrictions on political speech in the military and the fact that he was insubordinate, and now, any attempt to reenlist is likely going to fall on deaf ears since he attempted to embarrass the military.
The fact that the insurance company may have illegally cost Wilson his insurance and his wife her healthcare is the real story here. Had Wilson gone to someone with more responsibility and less of an anti-gay/Christianits like, say, Ed Schultz of MSNBC, he may have been able to force the insurance company to back down and reinstate his insurance. In fact, Schultz would be a prime candidate given his wife’s battle with cancer and his working man cred.
Starnes has a long history of manipulating issues in order to try and make them look like they are about Christian oppression. Unfortunately, places like Media Matters never quite go far enough in their investigations to do much more than counter Starnes. Back earlier this year, Starnes attempted to claim that a track star was kicked from his team for praying after a race when, in reality, he was reprimanded and kicked for being disrespectful to the referee.
As for Wilson, hopefully he can get his insurance reinstated given the illegal-seeming nature of his losing it in the first place.