Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Obama planned to take away Veterans Insurance

Reimbursement plan dropped by Obama


National Commander David K. Rehbein applauded President Barack Obama for dropping a plan to bill private insurance companies for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries.

"We are glad that President Obama listened to the strong objections raised by The American Legion and veterans everywhere about this unfair plan," Rehbein said. "We thank the administration for its proposed increase in the VA budget, and we are always available to assist by providing guidance to ensure a veterans health-care system that is worthy of the heroes that use it."

During a March 16 meeting at the White House with Rehbein, the president revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs for care provided for veterans suffering from service-connected disabilities and injuries. Rehbein quickly objected to the plan and began a grass-roots campaign to rally support against the measure.

Obama's plan prompted outrage from dozens of servicemembers, veterans and non-veterans who e-mailed Rehbein and National Headquarters. An op-ed by Rehbein that criticized the plan also appeared in the March 18 Wall Street Journal.

Following a meeting on March 18 with The American Legion and other veterans service organizations, the White House announced that it will no longer consider billing insurance companies or veterans for treatment of their service-connected disabilities.

In a written statement, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, "In considering the third-party billing issue, the administration was seeking to maximize the resources available for veterans. However, the president listened to concerns raised by the [veteran service organizations] that this might, under certain circumstances, affect veterans' and their families' ability to access health care."

"Although we disagreed with the proposal, additional revenue streams are needed by VA," Rehbein said. "I strongly encourage Congress and the administration to allow VA to begin billing Medicare for the treatment of veterans who qualify for the program. They paid into Medicare for their entire working careers, and should be able to use it in the medical system that was built specifically for them."

Below are excerpts from comments received by American Legion National Commander David K. Rehbein and National Headquarters, following President Barack Obama's decision to drop his plan to bill private insurance companies for the treatment of veterans with service-connected disabilities and injuries.

I was motivated to join The American Legion today because of the way the commander stood toe-to-toe with President Obama about health care for wounded vets. I am glad the Legion seems to be well led and is such a strong advocate. I, myself, wasn't wounded or sickened due to my service (thank God), but I stand with our brothers and sisters who have made this sacrifice.
Thank you for honoring our wounded.
Mike O'Leary

When I saw the story about the president wishing to bill private insurance for veterans' service-related care, I was appalled and immediately wrote my congressmen. I haven't written letters to Washington much before, but this awful idea really needed rebutting.
I want to congratulate you for getting the word out and (we hope) quashing this immoral and outrageous proposal so quickly. Thank you for your courage in standing up for the right thing here.
Sarah Unfried

Thank you for standing up to the president regarding charging private insurance companies for veterans medical care. I'm a Marine Corps veteran with no medical problems, but I work with many Marine veterans (combat veterans) who need medical care. Thank you, again.
Denne Howard

Thank you for responding the way you did to the ... presidential intent to make veterans pay for their medical services. Our veterans are in good hands as long as you are speaking for them, their families, and the benefits they so very much deserve. Thank you.
Ann-Marie Kimble

David, a big thank you and well done for objections raised on our behalf. We (100-percent service-connected veterans) need all the help we can get. Iowa is well served, as is the nation. Thanks, again.
Rod Skinner

The American Legion Dispatch

1 comment:

  1. Mark, as I recall this was the topic that raised the most eyebrows at our get-together the other night. I believe the "what-is-Mark-talking-about" factor was the result of some mischaracterization in your recounting of the story, which was presented by you as "Obama wants to strip veterans of their benefits." Such a statement is misleading. In the context of the extremely challenging economic situation he has inherited, and the extremely ambitious goal of seeing all citizens provided with health insurance, the administration *proposed* that private insurers actually cover some of the medical costs of veterans holding their policies, rather than making taxpayers absorb all the costs and giving the insurers a free ride. It wasn't a case of taking benefits away from vets, but of shifting some of the financial responsibility to the private insurance companies that are making billions in profits. When the *proposal* drew fire, the administration expressed its willingness to consider alternative approaches. And after meeting with the Legion to hear their objections, Obama agreed to scrap the proposal and start over. So rather than saying "Obama wants to strip veterans of their benefits," it might have been more accurate to say "The Obama administration considered shifting some of the cost burden for veterans' care to private insurers but ultimately agreed the approach wasn't in the best interest of the vets." But that wouldn't have raised any eyebrows, would it?