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

Veterans, Emanuel confer on controversial insurance proposal

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Dennis

    This shows how out of touch this administration is with veterans and the military.

    March 18, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. Ron

    What do you say we give $1B less to Wall Street and not only pay for the VA, but start providing the proper care for our veterans?! IF we can't afford to fix them, Mr. President, we'd darn well better stop breaking them.

    March 18, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. one of those things

    that no one is going to like no matter how you conclude it

    expensive and dealing with trauma, tough decision will have to be made

    March 18, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Rick

    Emanuel should be fired for running such a disastrous administration.

    March 18, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. Isneg

    This concerns me deeply. Why are we even advancing the idea of having the veterans benefits shoulder the revenue raising proposal? I am sure there are other alternatives. No, I say.

    March 18, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. Bob in Pa

    This and taxing employee health benefits is all just a play to force people to accept their "1 payer" system.

    March 18, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. John

    Obama, don't screw this up. A lot of vets supported you, vets like me, vets with service-related disabilities like me. Don't screw this up.

    March 18, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. None ya bidness

    It's Okay, I would never expect Obama the great, or Rombo Dead Fish, to know what its like to go into combat, sustain injuries, and know whats it like to deal with it. Obama, go back to Africa, go fight some lions and tigers or something. Then Lose.

    March 18, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. Doug from OH

    Anything related to the military is going to be on the back burner for Obama.

    March 18, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. ray ray

    More "Change you can believe in" from the Obama administration... screwing the veterans.

    Nice, Obama, Nice.

    March 18, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Matt

    Obama can not be that stupid and that liberal to think America will let him make a veterans insurance pay one dime towards treatment of injuries recieved while in service. We will have your head before we let you do this.

    March 18, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. The Broker.

    I don't just watch CNN. I watch the News. All over. Wherever. I tune into the BBC every day. I go where the Internet takes me.
    If you want to keep up. Stopp talking a change, and listen.

    March 18, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. KC

    This is wrong and unjust. I am tired of hearing Obama say, "then what would you do, I challenge you, what do you propose?" He wanted the job...well do it. But quit screwing those people that sacrifice and work their butts off for this country. No more, no way. This is wrong. I have written both my Senators and I will not stop until this is no longer on the table. You can take care of AIG and all the banks and Wall Street, well then you can take care of our soldiers.

    March 18, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. Veteran in Kansas

    The veteran groups of which I am a member of many of them have overreacted to this proposal.

    1. The VA has been billing private insurance companies for some services provided to veterans at VA facilities if the veteran had private insurance. No veteran is required to have private insurance and no veteran is expected to make up the differemnce as to what the insurance company pays out. The federal government has always maintained that private insurance companies are the primary carrier and they are the secondary carrier.

    2. Rates and premiums are not going to raise for veterans beacuse they are receiving care at a Veterans Adminstration facility. If they were not receiving care there they would be receiving it some place else more than likely for substantially more than the VA charges.

    3. I will agree that it was not a smart move to go for service related injuries being billed to private insurers. First off almost every policy I have ever seen denies claims for injuries received in War, it is called a War Clause. Since most policies contain these clause the VA and submit claims all day long, they will not receive payment. And the VA is not going to go after veterans for payment of what insurers do not pay, that would bring down the house. Service related injuries are basically a scared cow and untouchable as well as impossible to even consider collecting on.

    4, The President has proposed a dramatic increase in the VA budget, it has been proposed to open enrollment to many more Cat 8 individuals. It would make much more sense to open enrollment to all, take care of service related injuries first as we always do, collect from private insurers for those services that we can and increase the number of veterans ewe can care for in our facilities. Those with insurance are not going to pay the difference, those without insurance are not going to receive any less care. And all the vast majority of veterans want any way is the prescription drug services they can receive at the VA, which means basically one visit per year until the VA decides that private doctors can actually write prescriptions, then they wound even haveto go once per year.

    March 18, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. War Vet

    Yep, we will get screwed again. Emanuel and company will make it their moral obligation to destroy what is left of the veteran's healthcare.

    March 18, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  16. Greg

    This is one thing I can't support President Obama on. Stupid idea!

    March 18, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Joe Panfalone

    This is an outrage! We can spend 150 million on tattoo removal but cannot spend a little of the stimulas money on our vetrans who have given the supreme sacrafice.

    When the president asks the military to go into Afganistan they should tell him to KISS OFF

    March 18, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. yuri

    Hey Rahm! Do not take the Vets' issueas so lightly. Imagine yourself facin' the business end of a gun from your enemy in the battlefield. Nobody serves a country better than the spirited and sprightly soldiers and we all know it.

    March 18, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. The Death of America by Obama

    this administration is scum.

    March 18, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. Otto

    I hardly think most of you commenting on this blog read the full article or did any investigation. You are all commenting blindly and out of ignorance.

    I guess this is why the blogs are free so that you can claim to be smart people. Do a full investigation and find the real facts before making judgment.

    It's time to cut waste where ever it resides and insurance companies have had a free ride for decades.

    When was the last time any of you when to a hospital? I'll bet the first question asked was; do you have insurance? Long before they ask for your name; they need to know if you are insured. Get real folks! Not since the last two decades have such large amount of money being spent on our GI's and indeed it is a huge increase over what GW spent. Remember also that most GI's have to travel long distances to receive care. How about them receiving the same high quality care in their own home town?

    March 18, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. Glennis

    Great. Now this administration is not only arrogant, ignorant, immature, and annoying, but they're ruthless and heartless as well. Perhaps we should take another look at THEIR medical care!

    March 18, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Tony's Mom

    This is outrageous. Support our troop, that is the least our president can do!

    March 18, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. KC


    What about you defending yourself from now on? How about that? You think they are all so eager to go this route? I don't think so.

    You go ahead now, learn how to handle that rifle, and barricade your door because from now on you are your own military. You abandon them....then don't need you.

    March 18, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. Jay

    I am surprised that anyone finds this shocking coming from the Obama administration. He is a liberal (not a Democrat of JFK's party) and liberals dispise the military.

    March 18, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. John J

    Hmmm. I now want to register as Independant.

    March 18, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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