March 10th, 2009
03:38 PM ET
11 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. Doug, New Jersey

    Democrats want free health care for illegal immigrants but not for our brave men and women who have faught for our freedom.

    This really shines the correct light on how the average lib in America truly thinks and how they really are evil to the core.

    March 10, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  2. brad sowells

    That would be a disservice to the men and women that fought and died for our freedom and our wounded warriors

    March 10, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. 2bigtofail

    Is he just throwing ideas out there to see which ones stick, which ones please all the people he promised things to during the election?


    March 10, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Kelli M.

    WHY IS THIS EVEN BEING CONSIDERED?????? So many of our Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen have sacrificed so much to this country and all we can say to them is; "Well, you were injured fighting for this country and well, now we have to bill your insurance for your care." How dare the government even considerate it. We owe a debt of graditude, not an insurance bill, to our VETS. Big government at it's finest, screwing those who give the most and expect the least in return.

    March 10, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. William H Anderson

    I think that all of our elected and appointed government officeholders should have a the same housing and benefits as our fighting men and women. Our armed forces are giveing mor to the country than any politician ever did so why do the politicians live like kings and queens. It's just not right. Most politicians are just in it for the money.

    March 10, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. C W

    I'm surprised that the Obama Administration would even consider this. Just as Worker's Comp insurance pays medical expenses for on-the-job injuries, so should our government pay for military service-related injuries.

    If Obama is looking for ways to help pay for the costs involved in treating injured vets, the elimination of no-bid contracts will help.

    Also, companies such as Haliburton should be sued for breach-of-contract for such items as over-charging; fraudulent charging for services; failure to deliver equipment as specified and paid for; providing Humvees that were inadequately armored; etc., etc.

    I'm sure these companies have liability insurance from which our government could collect.

    March 10, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. JS007

    I have to admit I'm puzzled and disappointed by this move. I thought Obama was going to do much better for the troops than Bush did. They got injured serving the country, they MUST be given the BEST care, for FREE.

    March 10, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. George Arlington, TX.

    Veterams should have VA coverage for life. Pay for it by not sending our hard earned money to countrys that hate us.

    March 10, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  9. Disabled Vet

    I can not believe that this idea is even being discussed at all. I am a service connected disabled vet, and I rely on my medical care from the VA, because I can not provide for any additional medical care.

    March 10, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. daughter

    is a joke -oh wait BIG SURPRISE leave the vets alone they deserve to be treated respectfully

    OBAMA hasn't got a clue

    is OBAMA paying for his care -oh no WE ARE

    March 10, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. Matt

    Ironic, isn't it, that a president who has championed universal health care as recently as this weekend is talking about cutting government health benefits for veterans? Particularly when it has a contractual obligation to provide those services, as a result of the fine print on those enlistment forms Uncle Sam gave us when we signed up?

    Obama didn't win the veteran's vote, but he did better among them than the last Democrat to run for the WH (and that walking cadaver WAS a vet). A lot of vets took a chance on Obama. THIS is how he repays them?

    March 10, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  12. Joe in Austin

    Why not have private insurance pay for some costs, if it is covered? This is not like the Bush policy of just ignoring our troops in need. This sounds knee-jerk.

    March 10, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  13. Connie Niehus

    Shame on all of them. If anyone should pay for their own insurance, it's congress. That would save some money. Don't shaft our soldiers.

    March 10, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  14. dawhite

    Why should the VA pay if you as a service connected veteran have private health insurance? I am retired, 62 years of age and have health insurance through my prior employeer. I use the VA Clinic for myself, but I have to keep the private insurance for my wife. I smell big money from the insurance lobby. You can bet that if both members of a couple have insurance, that there will be a primary and a secondary, and only one will pay. How is this different from the VA and a insurance company.

    March 10, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. PATC

    Obama and all libtards have total disdain for the military. He has been taught this his entire life through his Saul Alinsky Communist days in College to his William Ayers days in Chicago. Why is anybody surprised?,

    March 10, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. Lisa P

    If the VA were properly funded in the first place then I could see the problem with billing third party insurers. As it is? It seems to me that the veterans will pay for Republicans protecting their buddies in the health insurance industry by continuing to suffer with aging facilities and inadequate staffing levels. Because Republicans also love to brag about how they're keeping down government spending, which includes health care for veterans. Ironic, yes?

    If we had a national health care plan this cost sharing idea wouldn't even be on the table.

    March 10, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. kevin-pa

    Yes we can Yes we will …Yes we screwd!!!
    Change we can believe in!!!!

    March 10, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. prof x

    Change we can believe in...awesome

    March 10, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Retired Vet

    And while he is at it he should charge them for the plane ticket over to the war zone, that should really save some money!

    March 10, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. Sandy

    Perhaps this is a clue for congress to give more funding to the VA.

    March 10, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. Beverly, NYC

    The people against this plan are doing so because of self preservation. As a former Marine I think our service men and women deserve the best care possible. Given the dismal conditions exposed at Walter Reed and other VA hospitals, private plans should be considered with the gov't picking up the tab, with a $5 co-pay. Many small town service people have to travel distances to the nearest VA facility, why should this be, if proper care is available where they live. Any concerns the gov't has over the medical equalivent of a 300 hammer can be regulated. If we can waste 70 million to build the Iraqis a prison the didn't want we can find the cash to take care of veterans.

    March 10, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. Angie

    This story just doesn't compute. Obama has been at the forefront of the fight to provide care to our veterans, so if this proposal is true, it wouldn't be in step with his words or previous actions. Makes me wonder if some essential part of the story has been overlooked. ??

    March 10, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  23. Noah

    Obama and his team care more about the rights of terrorists in Gitmo than of our soldiers. How can liberals even defend the likes of the Gitmo detainees when 5 of them just today praised September 11 and the attacks that they planned on our country? Liberals are disgusting

    March 10, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. Laura

    This is ridiculous, what kind of moron would even possible entertain this idea, is this the grand health care reform? I am becoming more and more disappointed in this administration. I know he has been in office a short time and has to fix a lot of messes, but you can only claim the prior administration for so long. Not one of his ideas has seemed to bring any relief yet, and not a lot of ""hope"either. All I see is a whole bunch of excuses and broken campaign promises. As a wife of National Guardsman who is getting ready to deploy, I think this is absolutely shameful and would really like to know whose brilliant idea this originally was.

    March 10, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  25. S Callahan

    I agree this is unacceptable....and wil make sure my Congressman/ woman and Senators know........
    WE've got your back Veterns!

    March 10, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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