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.