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. Dan

    We have men and women in uniform dying EVERY single day for our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan and this is how Obama plans on paying honor to them? I cannot believe I voted for this guy!

    March 10, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. Baze

    I don't get this. Do they want vets to get their own health insurance while in the service, cuz they certainly aren't going to get it after they're wounded. If that's the case, then I guess they're thinking that the combination of G.I. Bills and disability payments for vets will go toward their health care, killing two birds with one stone by curtailing the cost of war and injecting government money into health care. Kind of clever, but callous.

    March 10, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. John A. Nicholson

    Nothing this current occupant of the White House is considering surprises me. I hope all those who voted for him see the error or their ways before it is too late.

    March 10, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Irwin, Thousand Oaks, CA

    That's going the wrong direction, Prez. We should be going toward nationalized, single payer, not farming out vets' bills. Thhat's the worst, alomsot sounds like something Bush would have considered.

    March 10, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. John

    As a vet that back Obama financially and with volunteer time, I really expected them to be better then this.

    Seriously, Shinseki? Seriously?

    There's better ways to save money then this.

    March 10, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. Noel

    Don't allow this to happen...a disabled veteran who served 25 years for your country!

    March 10, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. BC Fuzzy

    Let's see.......we will make Vets pay for their service related injuries that they received while protecting us. In the meantime, we will pay for illegal aliens to receive free injury care at our community hospitals....Ok I got it ! Maybe we don't deserve Vets anymore.

    March 10, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. toni

    perhaps this is an attempt to be sure that Vets are getting the best medical care. Care that meets the medical standard as opposed to what they are getting thru the underfunded and overloaded system that now exists to provide their care.

    March 10, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Max

    Hell of a way to start out as the new Secretary of veterans Affairs.
    Looks like it's going to be more of the same old stuff. Perhaps even worse.
    Former Army Chief of Staff.
    Taking care of the troops.
    BS BS BS BS BS

    Typical USMA Graduate, career comes first, all else is second.

    His mission WAS to straighten out the VA. Looks like failure from the begining.

    March 10, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Get Real

    This idea should not even be under consideration.

    March 10, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. obama-mama

    Everybody jumping the gun. Did any of you hear this from the president.

    March 10, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    Will the idiot who came up with this idea, please "walk the plank" and the sooner the better. Let's see here. I volunteer to serve, get my backside blown off in Iraq then have to come home to no job and pay a portion of my medical bills. Sounds more like "Rush" than Rush does. Take cover boys, incoming "mail"!

    March 10, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. rbn alexandria, mn

    I want the truth on this. I want to hear and see the President talk about Veterans paying for service related injuries with private insurance before I read about ever again.

    March 10, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    This what to expect when people who have never spent one minute to risk anyhthing but a photo opportunity have the final say on who goes to war. They treat men like pawns on a chess board. This idea is not only stupid, but heartless. P

    March 10, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Joel

    Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial a plan to make veterans pay

    You guys don't have copy editors, do you? There's an extra 'a' in the sentence.

    March 10, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  16. salty

    My feelings on this, I cannot even bend my mind around Obama to even consider this. I can tell you that I am a service connected disabled veteran my main source of income comes from the V.A. and My wife working her a– off and now with all the worries about the economy I have to even think of possibly having to pay for insurance!!!!!!!!!!! I gave the military my body and mind and both are damaged goods.........makes me sick cannot even type anything else.
    God bless our troops when they ALL come home !

    March 10, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. salty

    My feelings on this, I cannot even bend my mind around Obama to even consider this. I can tell you that I am a service connected disabled veteran my main source of income comes from the V.A. and My wife working her a– off and now with all the worries about the economy I have to even think of possibly having to pay for insurance!!!!!!!!!!! I gave the military my body and mind and both are damaged goods.........makes me sick cannot even type anything else.
    God bless our troops when they ALL come home !

    March 10, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. Kevin

    And this is the man who was voted to lead our country, where is he leading it ?????

    March 10, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. Kyle

    If Obama is pushing this, there is no way he should be commander in chief. Obama is starting to show his true colors. He just needed to lie enough to fool enough people to get elected. I really don't think Obama wants to be President of the United States of America. I think what he wants is to be president of the United Socialist States of America. This is a disgrace.

    March 10, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  20. TanM Boener, WaxBrow

    you guys should diss Obama on stuff he actually does, not something he considers ... people w brains do analyze and consider the situation even bad ideas, they don't just let rush or church tell them what to do, or in most cases from these posters their invisible friend

    March 10, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. I really know

    The VA has billed veteran's HEALTH INSURANCE just like any other provider would do. In the past, it has not billed the veteran's health insurance for treatments for service connected injuries or illnesses. Flat feet, back pain, etc.
    The VA does not bill VETERANS for service connected treatment and does not bill veterans for other care if their income is below certain thresholds.
    Third party billing is just that, veterans who have health insurance and who are seen at the VA have their health insurance billed.
    This has nothing to do with any promises made by the administration.
    Remember, the previous administration excluded more that 200,000 veterans from VA care and this administration is going to provide care to them That's a promise.
    You should note that this was objected to by some of the service organizations who said it would over stress the system.
    If the VA could bill Medicare the system would not be over stressed. It won't be anyway.

    March 10, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  22. AJ

    Why on earth would the Obama administration even think that this might be acceptable?

    March 10, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  23. SLEZE

    @leapfrog – Congress doesn't get free healthcare. They use the same federal plans that all federal employees use.

    But I totaly agree with your comments regarding Vets. They should have THE BEST health coverage in the country.

    March 10, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. Republican

    Service related injuries should be covered. Non-service related care, pay for it yourself, don't burden the taxpayer.

    March 10, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. wait a minute

    Making our veterans use their private health insurance to pay for war injuries will be rejected by private health insurance immediately. War injuries are different from normal injuries at home or at work. We owe these veterans and we have to care for them after their survival from the wars. Often they need specialized medical care for brain injuries from IEDs in Iraq.

    What we need is universal health insurance run by the government like Medicare. Everyone pays their affordable copay for each doctor's visit and prescriptions to control wastes. We spent the most on education and health care and we don't have much to show for. We cannot afford this kind of wastes any more.

    March 10, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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