Veterans Groups Fight Plan To Bill Insurers for Service Related Injuries
On Monday, representatives of several veterans groups criticized a proposal that would bill private insurance companies for combat- and service-related medical care, McClatchy/Arizona Daily Star reports (McClatchy/Arizona Daily Star, 3/17).
The proposal is included in President Obama's fiscal year 2010 budget proposal. Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs covers those costs and bills health insurers only for treatment for conditions unrelated to veterans' military service.
Last month, 11 veterans groups wrote a letter to Obama, saying, "There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran's personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide."
The groups added that the policy would:
- Discourage employers from hiring veterans with disabilities;
- Increase insurance premiums for disabled veterans; and
- Renege on the U.S. government's "sacred obligation" to care for the injuries veterans sustained during service (American Health Line, 3/10).
Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said, "If the president and the [White House Office of Management and Budget] want to cut costs, they can start at AIG, not the VA."
In a speech at VA on Monday, Obama said he hopes to increase VA funding by $25 billion over five years, but he did not address the policy proposal.
At a hearing last week, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, described the policy proposal as "[d]ead on arrival."
At the hearing, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said that the plan was "a consideration," and noted that it was included as a revenue-generating provision in the department's proposed budget for 2010. Shinseki also said that "a final decision hasn't been made yet" (McClatchy/Arizona Daily Star, 3/17).
Broadcast CoverageOn Monday, MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" included a segment on the policy proposal. The segment included an interview with Rieckhoff (Maddow, "The Rachel Maddow Show," MSNBC, 3/16). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.