This is just wrong!!!
By David Goldstein
WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is considering making veterans use private insurance to pay for treatment of combat and service-related injuries. The plan would be an about-face on what veterans believe is a long-standing pledge to pay for health care costs that result from their military service.
But in a White House meeting Monday, veterans groups apparently failed to persuade President Obama to take the plan off the table.
“Veterans of all generations agree that this proposal is bad for the country and bad for veterans,” said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “If the president and the OMB [Office of Management and Budget] want to cut costs, they can start at AIG, not the VA.”
Under current policy, veterans are responsible for health care costs that are unrelated to their military service. Exceptions in some cases can be made for veterans who do not have private insurance or are 100 percent disabled.
The president spoke Monday at the Department of Veterans Affairs to commemorate its 20th anniversary and said he hopes to increase funding by $25 billion over the next five years. But he said nothing about the plan to bill private insurers for service-related medical care.
Few details about the plan have been available, and a VA spokesman did not provide additional information. But the reaction on Capitol Hill to the idea has been swift and harsh.
“Dead on arrival” is how Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington described the idea.
“ . . . when our troops are injured while serving our country, we should take care of those injuries completely,” Murray, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, told a hearing last week.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said at the same hearing that the plan was “a consideration.” He also acknowledged that the VA’s proposed budget for next year included it as a way to increase revenue. But he told the committee that “a final decision hasn’t been made yet.”
For veterans, that was little comfort. (Read More)