March 18th, 2009
02:13 PM ET
6 years ago

Veterans, Emanuel confer on controversial insurance proposal

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel met with veterans groups on Wednesday.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel met with veterans groups on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Leaders from 11 veterans groups were conferring Wednesday afternoon with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on the Obama administration's plan to charge private insurers fortreatment of veterans' service-connected ailments.

Veterans' representatives and members of Congress have angrily opposed the proposal, which White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said is not finalized.

On Monday, the groups met with President Obama, Emanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, director in charge of defense spending for the Office of Management and Budget.

The administration sees the plan as a way of raising more than $500 million in revenues for the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, veterans groups see it is a violation of the government's moral obligation to treat veterans injured during service to their country.

In addition, they believe it will lead to veterans and their families losing their private insurance or premiums rising because of the high costs of treating many service-related injuries.

The head of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, Daniel Akaka, said Tuesday his committee "will not advance any such legislation."

His counterpart in the House, Bob Filner, said his
committee won't take up the proposal either. In a statement released by his office, Filner said the idea is "DOA" and said the budget "cannot be balanced on the backs (or legs, or kidneys, or hearts) of our nation's combat-wounded heroes."

The president pushed back during the meeting on Monday, telling the groups that the private insurance companies were getting a free ride. He challenged the veterans to come up with an alternative way to raise revenues.

AMVETS planned to propose that billings be pursued more aggressively for non-service-related injuries.

A 2008 Government Accountability Office study found that about $1.7 billion in treatment that could have been charged to private insurance never was, nor was it collected by the VA.


Filed under: Rahm Emanuel
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Some Guy

    Y'all need to understand what is being proposed before shooting your mouths off. So far, it appears that Obama is supporting the troops than Bush ever did, if you bother to do more than read some inflamatory headline. Get informed. Or stay ignorant. It's your choice.

    March 18, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Boston Irish

    This is the most disgraceful and disgusting thing anyone has ever come up with. I can't believe Obama would even consider this to be an option. If this goes through, Obama can kiss any future election win goodbye. He would have a very difficult time finding support for ANY proposal from ANYONE in Congress if it does. He's kissing up to Pelosi and Reid so much, might be the only two that will support him.

    March 18, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. Fitz

    I am sure there is much more to this story thaty what is being run around the mill right now.

    March 18, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. rena

    Mr. President, I disagree on this! You need to come up with another resolution. This is not it! How can you ask our soldiers to pay premiums for private insurances and then tell them they will have to get billed by their private insurance carrier for any war related inflections, after they served and protected us and mind you, you Mr. President. I think you are a wonderful man and will try to lead at your best, but this is one I have to say "NO". Their premuims will go thru the roof, if this happens.

    March 18, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. SS

    This article is vague...CNN please define terms and conditions of this proposal so layman can understand.

    March 18, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. Chris - Seattle

    Why do folk want to continue wasting money just because it's the military, use your brains folk, did you even read the last sentence? If not here it is again!

    "A 2008 Government Accountability Office study found that about $1.7 billion in treatment that could have been charged to private insurance never was, nor was it collected by the VA"

    BTW Pres. Obama stated, "if you can find another way to save some of that $1.7billion, then he's open to suggestions"!

    Some folk just amaze me, I really need to stay off this ticker because it really shows the truth, ignorance is bliss!

    March 18, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Wounded Warrior

    My wounds were a result of working for America during a war. America should pay the bill not my insurance. America said if I gave my life/body/time to defend it then they would be there for me. Is this another contract they are willing to break just to fix the economy? How many insurance companies will pay for this? They all consider my war wounds as pre-existing conditions. Why do I need private health insurance while on active duty? Is that one of the benefits employers are supposed to offer. We have no problem paying TRILLIONS for pork projects in the name of stimulus but are willing to cut the vets. I wish I had never joined then who would have protected Americans from our enemies – Barrack? Rahm? Geithner? Summers?

    March 18, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. gary

    first of all lets take away all the free health benefits we give all those bums in congress and give it to the vets instead

    March 18, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. gary

    first of all lets take away all the free health benefits we give all those bums in congress and give it to the vets instead

    March 18, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  10. Duke Caruthers

    Neither Emanuel nor Obama have a lick of time with the military. They seem to think they can give money to the enemies and the enemies will leave us alone. What fools!

    March 18, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. John

    As a Missouri veteran I have to agree with Veteran in Kansas. On the surface it sounds despicable but if you look further into the proposal it does have some merit but more importantly it will hopefully bring about increased dialogue and more and better ideas. One thing I like about this administration is they are challenging everyone to get involved if you don't like their proposals. Everyone needs to stop saying what you shouldn't do or can't do, just come up with other/better ideas yourselves and get involved.

    March 18, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  12. John

    Duke Caruthers March 18th, 2009 5:27 pm ET

    Neither Emanuel nor Obama have a lick of time with the military. They seem to think they can give money to the enemies and the enemies will leave us alone. What fools!

    If that were true you and your kind would be zillionaires.

    March 18, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  13. rachel

    Why would an insurance company want to pay for a soldier's war injuries.

    March 18, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  14. Mike, St. Louis

    It is amazing that there is more people outraged over what a few AIG greed heads did and not this. I am not saying that there is no merit to what Obama is proposing because the VA is an inefficient agency, but on a whole, I do not like the idea. I find the whole thing rather ironic. Obama is pushing for a national health care type system but in this instance, he wants to go the private route.

    March 18, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. JJ12345

    The biggest problem is that the VA does not bill private insurance for non-combat related visits. This is what has to be changed.

    March 18, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
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