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

Senator warns White House on possible vet insurance plan

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="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. William B.

    Demos have never done anything good for the service member active or retired. Cut numbers, small pay raises, stop equip,cut contracting on military posts and on and on. You people that listen to Obama and voted for him deserve what you get. When I was drafted in 68 we were told how the gov. would take care of our medical after retirement and now we have to pay for it and wait weeks for an appointment.

    March 10, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. phoenix86

    Obama screwing the military? Say it ain't so!!!!

    March 10, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. obambi

    I see true obamamaniacs are still trying to blame Bush for everything their hero proposes–they simply will not believe what he really stands for. THEY WERE WARNED! and they chose to ignore–he is also "considering" talking to the probably do not believe that, either...fools.....

    March 10, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. karen-Phoenix

    After President Obama worked sooooo hard to get more and a bette GI bill, this sounds really "fishy" and something a crooked republican just might have stirred up!!!

    March 10, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. Pat

    After getting their cake, they want to eat it too. They must find someone to pay for that pork. That someone must be vilified and unwanted and therefore Indefensible – vets the regular scapegoats.
    The Dems have already stated the Reps were unwanted and unneeded; their speech and acts demonstrate that also applies to the vets as well. Used and discarded like diapers – again.

    March 10, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. Robert

    Obama is a disgrace to the office of President and "Commander-in-Chief" for even considering billing vets for service-related injuries.

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

    Some of you sound ridiculous. How is Obama Marxist and Socialist by making veterans pay for their own insurance? That sounds like a Republican move to me.

    March 10, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  8. Iraq Vet

    Not only do I disagree with the idea of billing a private insurance company for injuries sustained during military duty, I believe the administration should find a way to do even more for my fellow Brothers and Sisters in Arms. My solution to this problem, and I know a lot of you will balk at me, is to raise taxes to help pay for the care of wounded vets. What makes the US Military so great, is that it is all volunteer. No one is here that doesn't want to be here. Without us, the simple freedoms everyone enjoys, such as blogging here, would not exist. To the 1% of Americans who have EVER chosen this life of hardship and served this great nation, I am proud to be counted among your ranks. To the other 99%, freedom truly isn't free, it is paid for in blood by brave men and women. You will never know what it is like to walk a mile in our boots, and I am not asking you to do so. What I am asking is, please, defend out Vets, tighten the belt a little, spend a little less on the luxuries you enjoy, and spend a little more taking care of those few who have sacrificed so much for so many.

    March 10, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. Retired Air Force MSGT

    I'm in no way surprised at this ! Imagine if Bush had suggested this ? Typical Democratic disgust towards our armed forces ! HEY, Next time to save more money, just make them pay their way home from overseas !

    March 10, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. Jeff

    A final note on the 'proposed' bill. The largest group lobbying on behalf of the Army has nothing in its alerts or files about this matter. If it was of grave concern, the group would be all over Congress and the President.
    For the Bush loving right wing, watch for this one. It shows how much concern the republicans have for their Army."The Pentagon allegedly endangered U.S. soldiers by implementing and covering-up dangerously toxic waste-incineration practices at Balad Airbase in Iraq during years past, as revealed in a leaked Air Force memo" Story broke today-AF memor dated 2006. I don't recall Obama being in the WH then.

    March 10, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    @ Will Clemins, who made fun of "trying to buy perpetual votes of the "poor, sick, disabled, downtrodden, helpless, etc"."

    Please visit Ellis Island.

    March 10, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. tcms mom

    Please help my son,he had a serious head injury,thats why he wont come out of the cellar and listens to Rush Limbaugh all day and night.

    March 10, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. truthsayer

    This is yet another example of CNN making news as long as the administration looks bad. We never see any thing negative on the GOP on this blog. Why!!!..because CNN is carrying water for the Republicans

    March 10, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  14. Smitty

    Republicans kill me with the dumbnesia... Most republicans voted against benefits for vets. What is it about having a political party makes people so ridiculous? Why can't people function on common sense? Why would the party make the difference? As an independent the Democratic approach helps more, and right now, what people need is help.

    March 10, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Rick

    Every worthless low-life in the country gets money from the Obama gang but if you're one of the country's heroes, as our military vets are, you only get the shaft.

    Change you can believe in.

    March 10, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Herb

    As a member of the Veterans Administration Health Plan and a VIETNAM "COMBAT" VETERAN. I have private insurance with the Aetna PPO plan and have chosen to use the VA for my RX, Lab and Doctor visits. They have given me caring and professional service on each and EVERY visit. Not to mention the free pnemonia and flu shot clinics each year/etc.. I have always paid a copay and they then bill Aetna for the remainder of the services. Aetna gladly pays the difference as it is much cheaper than it would cost on the outside in the private medical system. This has been the case now for the past 5 years that I have been part of their healthcare system.
    Those of us who can afford to pay something should do so which allows those who can not to receive the free care they earned and deserve.
    I can not understand all the fuss because those Vets unable to pay will always continue to receive free care.

    March 10, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. R in NV

    What most of you do not know is that retired military vets already pay for their health care. I am a retired vet and when I went on active duty I was promised free healthcare for life if i served 20 years. After serving 24 years I was told I would have to pay an annual fee for my care. Our elected officials have done nothing but taken away almost every benefit we were promised. If it were their benefits you can be sure they would get them for free.

    March 10, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. Joanna

    Will Clemins March 10th, 2009 5:08 pm ET
    "We Americans love it the way it was before the dems screwed it all up trying to buy perpetual votes of the "poor, sick, disabled, downtrodden, helpless, etc"

    "We Americans"??? So Will, the only "real" Americans out of the 350+ million legal US citizens are the ones who agree with you?
    Yeah, whatever......hope all that anger gives you heartburn.

    March 10, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  19. abc

    haven't read much on veteran issues but this doesn't sound right. the government should provide legal and moral responsibilities to care for the service-related injuries our brave men & women received because they were on the front line defending our country's freedom. especially, they are often being sacrifice not solely for war but shameless political agenda as well.

    of course, if they are employed after they return from service, the post-service injuries will be a different story.

    March 10, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  20. Jake

    What part of the insurance companies paying don't you republicans understand?

    March 10, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  21. D..

    Just the idea of it is insulting. The fact that it is being considered is shameful. Although I don't believe this country would allow the Obama administration to get away with this, I'm sorry the troops know it was even thought of.

    March 10, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
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