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Author: Subject: Obama Plan for Private Insurance to Pay for Combat Related Injuries Irks Veterans

Ultimate Peach





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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 08:34 AM
The Obama Administration can bail-out AIG, but had "audacity" to consider that veterans should "use private insurance to pay for treatment of combat and service-related injuries." What a "crock of sh*t".

quote:
Vets Rap WH Plan on Paying for Care
March 17, 2009
Kansas City Star

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is considering making veterans use private insurance to pay for treatment of combat and service-related injuries.

The plan would be an about-face on what veterans believe is a longstanding pledge to pay for health care costs that result from their military service.

But in a White House meeting Monday, veterans groups apparently failed to persuade President Barack Obama to take the plan off the table.

"Veterans of all generations agree that this proposal is bad for the country and bad for veterans," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "If the president and the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) want to cut costs, they can start at AIG, not the VA."

Under current policy, veterans are responsible for health care costs that are unrelated to their military service. Exceptions in some cases can be made for veterans without private insurance or who are 100 percent disabled.

The president spoke Monday at the Department of Veterans Affairs to commemorate its 20th anniversary and said he hopes to increase funding by $25 billion over the next five years. But he said nothing about the plan to bill private insurers for service-related medical care.

Few details about the plan have been available and a VA spokesman did not provide additional information. But the reaction on Capitol Hill to the idea has been swift and harsh.

"Dead on arrival" is how Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington described the idea. " ... when our troops are injured while serving our country, we should take care of those injuries completely," Murray, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, told a hearing last week.

"I don't think we should nickel and dime them for their care."

In separate comments, Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri said the nation "owes a debt to the veterans who fought and paid for our freedom."

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said at the hearing where Murray spoke that the plan was "a consideration." He also acknowledged that the VA's proposed budget for next year included it as a way to increase revenue.

But Shinseki told the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee that "a final decision hasn't been made yet."

For veterans, that was little comfort.

"When a man goes and defends his country and gets injured and then they want your insurance to pay, that's wrong," said David Gerke, a 60-year-old Vietnam veteran and retired postal worker from Kansas City. "When we went into the service, we were told our medical needs...would be taken care of for the rest of our lives."

Veterans claim that the costs of treating expensive war injuries could raise their insurance costs, as well as those for their employers. Some worried that it also could make it more difficult for disabled veterans to find work.

Several veterans groups had written Obama last month complaining about the new plan.

"There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran's personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide," the heads of several veterans groups said in their letter to Obama.

Despite the current economic crisis, they wrote that "placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable."

A spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade association, said Monday that it would evaluate any proposal that the administration puts forth. But "we don't have a position on it at this time," Robert Zirkelbach said.

Many veterans had high expectations for Obama after years of battling the Bush administration over benefit cuts and medical concerns such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

But the VA's decision to float a potential change in its policy of paying for service-related injuries could signal a quick end to the honeymoon.

"It's a betrayal," said Joe Violante, legislative director of Disabled American Veterans, which signed the letter to Obama. "My insurance company didn't send me to Vietnam, my government did. The same holds true for men and women now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's the government's responsibility."

Gerke was a 20-year-old petty officer in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He helped load Sidewinder missiles and 500-pound bombs onto F-18s.

He came home with a bad back and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other injuries. But the government honored its pledge and has paid for his health care. Now he's worried, especially for the injured service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Let's face it, (the VA) needs the money," Gerke said. "But why should disabled vets be paying that price?"



[Edited on 3/17/2009 by sibwlkr]

 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 08:39 AM
We'll see how this plays out. I smell a political set-up.

 

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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 08:45 AM
quote:
We'll see how this plays out. I smell a political set-up.


Yep. This came from Drudge and its a bunch of unsubstantiated rumor. Brilliant, really... all the Presidents detractors can say that it was planned and that way if it never comes to life they can say that he took it out because people found out about it or he couldnt screw the troops the way he wanted too yada yada yada....

 

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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 08:56 AM
quote:
quote:
We'll see how this plays out. I smell a political set-up.


Yep. This came from Drudge and its a bunch of unsubstantiated rumor. Brilliant, really... all the Presidents detractors can say that it was planned and that way if it never comes to life they can say that he took it out because people found out about it or he couldnt screw the troops the way he wanted too yada yada yada....


Or maybe, as has been proven repeatedly in the last couple months, BarryO's "promises" aren't worth a tinkers damn.

Liberal hypocrisy is the only constant in an ever changing world.

 

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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 08:56 AM
quote:
quote:
We'll see how this plays out. I smell a political set-up.


Yep. This came from Drudge and its a bunch of unsubstantiated rumor. Brilliant, really... all the Presidents detractors can say that it was planned and that way if it never comes to life they can say that he took it out because people found out about it or he couldnt screw the troops the way he wanted too yada yada yada....


I was thinking a setup from the other direction. We'll see.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 02:58 PM
quote:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20090316/pl_usnw/the_american_legion_str ongly_opposed_to_president_s_plan_to_charge_wounded_heroes_for_treatment


The American Legion Strongly Opposed to President's Plan to Charge Wounded Heroes for Treatment

Mar 16, 5:49 pm ET

WASHINGTON, March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.


"It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."


The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ' to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"


Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group's early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, " There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran's personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable."


Commander Rehbein reiterated points made last week in testimony to both House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. It was stated then that The American Legion believes that the reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate that VA treat service-connected injuries and disabilities given that the United States government sends members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. The proposed requirement for these companies to reimburse the VA would not only be unfair, says the Legion, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. The Legion argues that, depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health care benefits. The Legion also points out that many health insurance companies require deductibles to be paid before any benefits are covered. Additionally, the Legion is concerned that private insurance premiums would be elevated to cover service-connected disabled veterans and their families, especially if the veterans are self-employed or employed in small businesses unable to negotiate more favorable across-the-board insurance policy pricing. The American Legion also believes that some employers, especially small businesses, would be reluctant to hire veterans with service-connected disabilities due to the negative impact their employment might have on obtaining and financing company health care benefits.


"I got the distinct impression that the only hope of this plan not being enacted," said Commander Rehbein, "is for an alternative plan to be developed that would generate the desired $540-million in revenue. The American Legion has long advocated for Medicare reimbursement to VA for the treatment of veterans. This, we believe, would more easily meet the President's financial goal. We will present that idea in an anticipated conference call with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel in the near future.


"I only hope the administration will really listen to us then. This matter has far more serious ramifications than the President is imagining," concluded the Commander.


SOURCE The American Legion



 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 03:15 PM
Meanwhile, its all still talk at this point. Nothing has come from the WH regarding any of the impending doom being tossed around by folks. If this turns out to be true, in the manner in which its being presented, Ill be one of the first ones to be angry, but right now, we simply dont have all the facts and Drudge isnt known for their honesty.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 03:17 PM
quote:
The Great One
he's a real doozey aint he ?
Well, granted ... he's no George W Bush...

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 11:05 PM
nobody did more to hurt vets than george dumbya.
 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/17/2009 at 11:07 PM
quote:
nobody did more to hurt vets than george dumbya.



So, you're ok with Obama doing this??

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 3/18/2009 at 04:50 AM
OPINION MARCH 18, 2009 Will Obama Go AWOL on VA Health Benefits?
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By DAVID K. REHBEIN
'If you were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan and you have not paid your co-pay, please press 1. If you were injured during military training and you have not yet reached your deductible, please press 2. If your family has reached its maximum insurance benefit, please call back after you have purchased additional coverage. Thank you for your service."

Before the leaders of other veteran's groups and I met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, I believed a phone call like the one described above unimaginable. Now it seems all too possible.

President Obama made clear during our discussion that he intends to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans with service-connected disabilities. He is trying to unfairly generate $540 million on the backs of veterans.

The proposed requirement for private companies to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would not only be unfair, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. Depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health-care benefits.

Currently, when veterans go to a VA hospital or related health-care facility for treatment of a service-connected disability, they receive the care without any billing to the veterans or the veterans' insurance. (On the other hand, those veterans who choose the VA for the treatment of nonservice-connected disabilities pay a co-pay, and the VA bills private insurance companies reasonable charges.)

Perhaps nobody would be hit harder by the Obama administration's proposal than the thousands of veterans who own small businesses. Not only will their private insurance premiums be drastically elevated to cover service-connected disabilities, but many will be forced to cut staff as a result. The unemployment rate for veterans may climb even higher, as businesses avoid hiring these heroes for fear of the impact they would have on insurance rates.

This plan is as unfair as it is unnecessary. According to the U.S. Constitution, it is the president and Congress who send troops in harm's way, not the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield.

As head of the nation's largest veterans organization, I was startled by this radical shift of position the president has taken. Last October, candidate Obama listed several proposals he had for the VA and none of them included billing veterans' insurance providers.

In fact, when asked how he would improve the funding formula for the VA's health-care system, then-Sen. Obama told the American Legion Magazine, "It starts with the president saying that if I'm budgeting for war, then I am also budgeting for VA. If I've got a half-a-trillion-dollar Pentagon budget, then I'd better make sure that I make some of those billions of dollars available to care for the soldiers once they come home. It should be a non-negotiable proposition that people are receiving the services that they need. This is the reason I joined the Veterans Affairs Committee -- because I believe deeply in that principle."

So I ask President Obama now, for all America's veterans, where is that principled stance today? By abandoning its responsibilities to the heroic men and women who answered our nation's call, the federal government is breaking a sacred promise. Moreover, it is unnecessary.

The 2.6 million member American Legion has long advocated for Medicare to reimburse the VA for its treatment of Medicare-eligible veterans. Veterans pay into the Medicare-system, yet they are unable to use Medicare benefits in the VA health system, which was created specifically for them. The Indian Health Service is successfully billing and collecting needed revenue for both Medicare and Medicaid. We also believe that direct billing between two federal agencies will reduce the opportunities for waste, fraud and abuse that tend to occur when for-profit corporations enter the mix.

Our military veterans have already served this country. They have given us their blood, sweat and devotion. Under President Obama's proposal, the most severely wounded veterans could easily exceed their maximum insurance benefit, leaving their family without any additional coverage. This is hardly the thanks of a grateful nation.

Mr. Rehbein, a former U.S. Army sergeant of the Vietnam War era, is national commander of the 2.6 million-member American Legion, the nation's largest wartime veterans organization.

This guy is just another of the "haters" of the Enlightened One. Yada Yada

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/18/2009 at 08:17 AM
quote:
quote:
nobody did more to hurt vets than george dumbya.



So, you're ok with Obama doing this??


Where has the White House said they were doing this?

...and yeah, when Obama is responsible for hundreds of thousands of innocents being killed and over 4,200 servicemen, then we can talk about your bullshiat false equivalence.




[Edited on 3/18/2009 by SquatchTexas]

 

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  posted on 3/18/2009 at 08:22 AM
quote:
The 2.6 million member American Legion has long advocated for Medicare to reimburse the VA for its treatment of Medicare-eligible veterans. Veterans pay into the Medicare-system, yet they are unable to use Medicare benefits in the VA health system, which was created specifically for them.


That's a shaky solution. Medicare is nearly insolvent as it is.

 

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  posted on 3/18/2009 at 03:17 PM
Veterans Groups Denounce Private Insurance Proposal

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 18, 2009; A04



An Obama administration proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for treatment of combat-related injuries has prompted veterans groups to condemn the idea as unethical and powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill to promise their opposition.

Nevertheless, the White House confirmed yesterday that the idea remains under consideration, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and leaders of veterans groups are scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss it further.

The proposal -- intended to save the Department of Veterans Affairs $530 million a year -- would authorize VA to bill private insurance companies for the treatment of injuries and medical conditions related to military service, such as amputations, post-traumatic stress disorder and other battle wounds. VA already pursues such third-party billing for conditions that are not service-related.

Veterans groups said the change would be an abrogation of the government's responsibility to care for the war wounded. And they expressed concern that the new policy would make employers less willing to hire veterans, for fear of the cost of insuring them, and that insurance benefits for veterans' families would be jeopardized.

Lawmakers explicitly ruled out the proposal yesterday in budget recommendations from the Senate and House veterans' affairs committees.

The chairman of the Senate panel, Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), said a majority of the committee members say the plan is fundamentally unfair.

"America's veterans and their families pay the true cost of war everyday, and we must pay for the care and benefits they have earned. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to pass a budget worthy of their service," Akaka said in a statement.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a senior member of the Veterans' Affairs and Budget committees, warned VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki last week that the idea would be "dead on arrival," and she vowed yesterday that any budget containing the provision "is not going to pass."

"The VA has an obligation to pay for service-related care, and they should not be nickel-and-diming vets in the process," she said in an interview. "This proposal means that family members will be hurt because, if a vet meets the maximum [benefit amount] for their insurance, their wife and kids would not be able to get insurance [benefits] anymore. . . . God forbid a wounded vet from Iraq has a wife who gets breast cancer."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday that the Obama administration has not made "the final . . . decision on third-party billing as it relates to service-related injuries."

At the same time, Gibbs noted that the administration is seeking an 11 percent increase in discretionary spending in the VA budget, a decision lawmakers and veterans groups have praised. "This president takes very seriously the needs of our wounded warriors that have given so much to protect our freedom on battlefields throughout the world," Gibbs said at a White House news conference.

VA and the Office of Management and Budget did not respond to requests for more details on the proposal.

Veterans groups said the plan was a puzzling political misstep by the new administration in its relations with the 25 million Americans who have served in the military. Obama heard firsthand about such objections Monday when he met with leaders of the groups at the White House.

"To ask veterans to save $500 million in a [VA] budget of over $100 billion is not only bad policy, it is bad politics," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who attended the meeting.

"It could be a rookie mistake," he said. "Ultimately, it's only going to hurt the president."

Another problem, critics said, is that the proposal could hurt wounded veterans' employment opportunities, particularly with small businesses.

"A small company is not going to want to take on the burden of increased premiums" by hiring a wounded veteran, said Craig Roberts, media relations manager for the American Legion. He added that the proposal could make buying private health insurance prohibitively expensive for these veterans.

Details of the proposal remained unclear yesterday, and a spokesman for the health insurance industry said its potential impact is difficult to assess. "We are going to carefully evaluate any proposal that is made," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for the trade association America's Health Insurance Plans.

Lawmakers and veterans advocates said VA could save $500 million by simply collecting from private insurers all that it is authorized to bill for non-service injuries each year.

More broadly, the issue underscores a significant challenge confronting the administration: ballooning health-care costs for veterans and active military members taking up an ever-larger share of VA and Pentagon budgets.

It is uncertain how many veterans would be affected by the proposed change, which would concern only those with private health insurance. As many as 7 million veterans are enrolled in the VA health-care program, and about 5 million use VA facilities each year.

Some veterans groups voiced concern that the administration's plan could represent a move toward privatizing VA benefits.

Other experts said it reflects the broader dilemma of how to increase cost-sharing for medical care in comprehensive programs such as the VA one. "There has been no change in cost-sharing features for 10 or 12 or more years," said William Winkenwerder Jr., the Pentagon's former top health official, who runs a private health strategy and consulting firm in the Washington area. "That is what is most responsible for driving up the cost of those programs to the government," he said.

Still, any proposals to increase cost-sharing "tend not to be very popular politically, especially at this time," Winkenwerder said.

Cue up the "BUSH SUCKS" refrain

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 3/18/2009 at 03:26 PM
quote:
Cue up the "BUSH SUCKS" refrain


That wasn't my first thought at all.

Now, does anyone have any suggestions on how to pay for the healthcare of vets on the already strained VA budget? Medicare can't cover it.

Oh well.

Cue up the NO MATTER WHAT OBAMA REALLY SUCKS refrain

 

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