March 10th, 2009
03:38 PM ET
5 years ago

Senator warns White House on possible vet insurance plan

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial a plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial a plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance, but was told by lawmakers that it would be "dead on arrival" if sent to Congress.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray used that blunt terminology, telling Shinseki that the idea would not be acceptable and would be rejected if formally proposed. She made the remarks during a Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing about the 2010 budget.

No official proposal to create such a program has been announced publicly, but veterans groups wrote a pre-emptive letter last week to President Obama opposing the idea after hearing the plan was under consideration. The groups also noticed an increase in “third-party collections” estimated in the 2010 budget proposal—something they said could only be achieved if the VA started billing for service-related injuries.

Asked about the proposal, Shinseki said it was under "consideration."

"A final decision hasn't been made yet," he said.

A second senator, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, said he agreed that the idea should not go forward.

"I think you will give that up" as a revenue stream, if it is included in this April's budget, Burr said.

Sen. Murray said she'd already discussed her concerns with the secretary the previous week.

"I believe that veterans with service-connected injuries have already paid by putting their lives on the line," Murray said in her remarks. "I don't think we should nickel and dime them for their care."

Eleven of the most prominent veterans organizations have been lobbying Congress to oppose the idea. In the letter sent last week to President Barack Obama, the veterans groups warned that the idea "is wholly unacceptable and a total abrogation of our government's moral and legal responsbility to the men and women who have sacrificed so much."

The groups included The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

At the time, a White House spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the option was being considere


Filed under: Veterans
soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. Steven

    Shouldn't the VA's rationale be explained in your article CNN?

    March 10, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    They have no idea as to how to deal with Health care reform thus putting forward a controversial plan...hehehe. Let the intelligent Democrats iat the White House draw it up.

    March 10, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Mike

    Any elected official who votes for this better realize how many active duty, veterans, spouses and extended family members there are in their state. Any Florida elected official who votes for obamby's plan will be out of a job.

    March 10, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Sue

    As I understand it, right now veterans are having trouble even getting medical services. If they are employed after they return home, and have insurance, shouldn't that be their primary carrier, not the taxpayers?

    March 10, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    I've no interest at all in having an idiot government waste tons of my money, but screwing vets needing care for service-related health problems isn't how I want to stop that waste.

    If Obama wants to save money on veterans health expenses, maybe he should consider getting our soldiers out of places where they're being shot at with no perceivable benefit to the US.

    March 10, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. Ian

    Isn't that interesting. I seem to remember that when this story broke, several people on this very ticker said the veterans organizations were jumping the gun based on rumor.

    I guess they weren't paranoid after all.

    It's good thing that not all of us believe the chosen one is as transparent as he claims to be.

    March 10, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. Independent_me

    Ok.
    This is where you will totally lose my Independent vote, President Obama!

    One of the reasons that I voted for you was because I felt that you would do better by our Veterans than the Republicans did.

    If you want to derail your support among the military, go ahead with this stupid plan. You will certainly lose my support!

    Our Veterans MUST have FREE healthcare – I don't care what it costs! They have put it ALL on the line for us, and we must do the same for them! Period.

    End of discussion.

    March 10, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. ken

    what? do we have some holdovers from the bush administration floating these ideas by us?
    totally unacceptable! don't even think about making veterans pay for service related injury care.

    March 10, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Sick of Dirty Obama

    Serious problems in the country and what task does Obama put to Rahm Emanuel, David Axerod and mouthpiece Gibbs?

    Waste time on a talkradio host!!

    DIRTY CHICAGO POLITICS!!!

    SHAME ON YOU OBAMA!!!

    March 10, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. Griff............... on The Truth...

    Sri Lanka. Ceylon. Sinhalese? Tamil? Indo? It is just an island. But it is creating more interest every week. Day?

    March 10, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. Tom in Delaware

    This is the dumbest thing to be proposed to the Military/Veteran Community since they were compelled to pay income taxes.

    Only Obama could come up with something this inane.

    March 10, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. frank

    this is what Obama will do to vets......stab behind the back!
    he is no friend of the military....does not like it, does not appreciate it
    you voted for him....and we all got screwed!

    March 10, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. WatchfulCowboy

    Everyone should make sure their Senator and Congressman or woman knows it is TOTALLY unacceptable for US to not take the best care possible of our veterans. And we tax payers owe it to them. Besides – our insurance companies will only recoop the expense from our premiums. We pay either way. Do it right!

    March 10, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. Gloria

    We owe our veteran's more than this!!!

    March 10, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. J. Hutto, Sr.

    Simply put, this is a horrible idea and political suicide if President Obama moves forward on this. Not good for a former Senator that supported the new GI bill. Certainly not good for a President that has pledged to end the Iraq War. Not good.

    JH

    March 10, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. psbro

    Yep, change you can believe in. The only reason the Repugs can't say anything is their treatment of our men and women in uniform was even worse.Obama has never pretended to be sensitive to or appreciative of, the military so this should come as no surprise.

    March 10, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  17. U.S. Common Sense

    So much for Obama caring about our troops.

    (See fellow posters, I can make such sweeping generalizations that aren't based on facts too.)

    March 10, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. Bill_ MA

    I don't believe what I am reading.

    March 10, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Dan

    Obama can forget about 2012 if he pushes for this!

    March 10, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. Kevin

    Well, as a veteran who was discharged from the Army due to a service connected disability this bill would be a slap in the face, especially considering I voted for change. If this is the change this man is considering, consider my vote in 2011 as service disconnected.

    March 10, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. Steve (the real one)

    CNN first ran this story on 4 March, this is what Ijoe stated then:
    ijoe March 4th, 2009 10:35 am ET
    when are you people going to realize the repubs stir up these stories to created trouble,without any crerdible source!! come on people wake up.if it does,nt come from the presidents mouth then it's bull.
    ------------------------
    Well, Ijoe, you feel the same way now? Real cute to blame republicans on March 4. How's that crow tasting right about now?? Bet you thought I forgot didn't you? Not to worry though you weren't the only liberal to suffer foot in mouth disease! Excuse me if I gloat just a little!

    March 10, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. leapfrog

    So lemme get this straight, a soldier goes into combat and gets wounded. The soldier is discharged, and as a veteran, he is expected to pay for the treatment for his wounds out of his own pocket? Bad idea. REALLY bad idea. Save money some other way, but don't skimp on veteran's benefits. They earned their free medical benefits the hard way, unlike members of Congress who get free medical benefits from sitting around on their a$$es and blowing hot air.

    March 10, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Phil of Colorado

    So much for Obama's concern about of injured service members.

    March 10, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. Matt Banasiak

    Make GI's pay for service related injuries with their own private insurance hey? What's next? Make them pay for their plane ticket to Iraq? Obama and his cronnies are even less American than Bill Clinton was.

    March 10, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. Mark

    When Congress starts paying for there medical insurance. I as a vet, I did my time while the Congress stayed home and sent me to the front line to handle there decisions to go to war. They should never touch the VETS benefits.... When they start to go in the military and do the time...they they can adjust policy and that won't happen....

    Persion Gulf War Vet

    March 10, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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