Why Would the Obama Administration Want to Make Vets Buy Private Insurance for Their Health Care?

By
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 11:37 am

Something for the “What in the World?” file:

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 the proposal would be “dead on arrival” if it’s sent to Congress, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said.

Murray used that blunt terminology when she told Shinseki that the idea would not be acceptable and would be rejected if formally proposed. Her remarks came during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs about the 2010 budget.

I am not a health care wonk but some of my good friends are, so I’ll refrain from pretending I can construct a health care argument whereby this makes sense (or doesn’t, for that matter). Instead, as a moral matter, veterans deserve free, government-provided health care. As a political matter, why the Obama administration would want to squander its good will in the military community is completely beyond me. Murray calls the plan DOA, as she should. But why should it be considered seriously in the first place?

Follow Spencer Ackerman on Twitter


Comments

35 Comments

Larry Scott
Comment posted March 11, 2009 @ 9:10 am

The headline here is incorrect. There is no proposal to make vets “buy” insurance. All the proposal is considering is those vets who already have health insurance. The VA would bill the insurance company. This is something they already do for non-service-connected care. The proposal would expand this billing practice to cover service-connected care, as well. There would be no out-of-pocket for any vet. That said, it is a bad proposal. It is the government's responsibility to care for veterans with service-connected disabilities.


hardheaded liberal
Comment posted March 11, 2009 @ 10:25 am

It is a way to shift some of the staggering cost of universal health care away from the government, so that the public price tag for increased financing can be trimmed down – as a marketing strategy. It's only being considered, I suspect, because Obama is fixated on keeping private health insurers in the business of underwriting policies.

If Obama would wise up and go simple, with single-payer, then these complicated ploys would not be necessary. In fact, if he keeps running into Congressional opposition on these strange strategies, he may finally get the message that he needs to bite the bullet and go for broke on the streamlined strategy: single-payer for all.


Makaainana
Comment posted March 11, 2009 @ 11:15 am

Help??? I don't understand. Is this a second Obama? I am not a great fan of how the military has been used lately, and I don't like the military talking about operations inside the US or being used as an aid to foreign governments, but I do recognize we need a military.

I wonder who will volunteer for a military that says, “By the way, if you get hurt you have to pay for your own medical when we send you home and discharge you.”


EoH
Comment posted March 11, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

Let's cut Congressional health and pension benefits immediately. Virtually all CongressCritters are millionaires anyway, and it's not like they've earned any long-term compensation for their labors. Because that's what benefits are, deferred compensation for services already rendered.

In the case of Congress, that's a non sequitur. In the case of service members with long-term service related illnesses, providing care for their service-related injuries is a public duty and civic honor. John McCain has benefited from that since birth, most spectacularly in the decades since his release from a POW camp.

What is mind boggling is that this de facto privatization, this further channeling of public funds to prop up the health insurance industry is coming from Democrats. This plan, even if fully subsidized by the USG, merely adds insurance company profits to the cost of veterans' health care. Might I suggest that Bush and Obama have already saddled taxpayers with unnecessary costs for too little gain already. Obama has made good suggestions about stimulus spending and changing the way government does business. This is NOT one of them.

If Congress and Obama's goal is to shutter military and VA hospitals, let them put that on the table. If not, stop subsidizing private profits with public money.


moron
Comment posted March 12, 2009 @ 12:06 am

veterans deserve free, government-provided health care.

So does every US citizen who's willing to work for a living.

Stop treating veterans as if they were some kind of angelic species, elevated above the rest of us. If the rest of us have to get sick, die and go bankrupt as a result of the shitty health care system in the US — which your beloved veteran friends have assured by voting GOP in numbers disproportionate to those of the general population — then let them suffer too. There's no reason they should escape the consequences of the regime they helped impose on the rest of us.


LarryE
Comment posted March 12, 2009 @ 4:33 am

as a moral matter, veterans deserve free, government-provided health care

Why? Or, more accurately, why veterans as opposed to anyone else? Why is it apparently immoral for veterans to be denied “free, government-provided health care” but not immoral for it to be denied to the tens of millions who lack affordable health care now, including millions of children?


El Cid
Comment posted March 12, 2009 @ 5:27 am

When they tried to pull this crap quite a few years ago, my retired military father went from being a staunch Republican to hating Republicans for many years. Just a thought.


UncommonSense
Comment posted March 12, 2009 @ 6:36 am

The point, Larry, is the “service-related injuries” part. As a moral matter, veterans simply should not have to use private insurance to pay for the treatment of injuries they received in the service of their country.

If you have an argument as to why the government should not pay for the treatment of service-related injuries, please present it.


timjbd
Comment posted March 12, 2009 @ 7:02 am

They need to stoke up the outrage that ANYONE should be required to buy insurance from a private profit mongering conglomerate. Start with the obvious and radiate outward.


Jodi
Comment posted March 12, 2009 @ 8:25 am

Thanks for clearing that up Larry Scott – this seemed so very uncharacteristically bizarre for the White House to be considering, it was obvious that some of the fine print was getting lost in the translation. While I know vets who would rather have private insurance than have to deal with the vagaries of VA care, I agree that it is all of our responsibility to pay for the treatment of the men and women who shed blood for us, whether we want them to or not.


Lex Alexander
Comment posted March 12, 2009 @ 8:27 am

That just blows my mind. The VA health system works perfectly well now (actually better than most), its only problem being sufficient funding to keep vets from having to wait too long for nonemergency care in some instances. Requiring private insurance, or private money generally, in addition to being morally wrong, would increase the number of vets not getting care at all. That's a proposal worthy of the Bush administration but not this one.


Conflucians Say: The Dark Side of the economic meltdown « The Confluence
Pingback posted March 12, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

[...] The President is thinking about ways to save money: Why Would the Obama Administration Want to Make Vets Buy Private Insurance for Their Health Care? [...]


Terry
Comment posted March 13, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

First they PROMISED us free medical care for life if we would serve our country in the military. Then they broke that promise when they instituted co-pays for prescriptions and payments to the VA for non-service connected illnesses and injuries. I suppose they see it now as a natural progression to make us pay for service-connected illnesses and injuries, too. Only a Liberal could justify this kind of policy, even in his/her own mind.


Terry
Comment posted March 13, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

Your screen name is quite a propos here, Moron. It is obvious that you enjoy your right to get on here and make stupid statements, but you apparently were never drafted or felt the need to stand up and volunteer to defend those rights. You DEMAND your rights, but you want someone else to fight and secure them for you. Veterans are not an angelic species, but they at least have had the courage to defend your rights, unlike you. You should be ashamed of yourself. I hope you have sons who someday ask you, “What did YOU do to serve our country, Daddy?” Be sure you can look them in the eye when you answer them.


Raymond
Comment posted March 13, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

I am steaming, Obama is nothing shy of the devil for thinking that America should take away from those that gave him what he has today, Freedom( oh yeah, his job.) I am wondering where the universal health care comes in for the veterans. DO we have to buy our own for serving our country?


bob w
Comment posted March 14, 2009 @ 9:56 am

You would think that here in America we could definitely treat our veterans a little better though, or at least as well as the people who mistakenly bought a house with 3-400 square feet more than they could afford. . .


H. Alex
Comment posted March 14, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

I think the Coward that even had the audacity to propose the idea should step forward and claim responsibility….I'm sure he's rich and privilaged, sitting fat in an office. While US military folk are eating dust and dirt of a nation we didn't choose to go to, but we do it anyways cause it's our duty. Granted an apology to the Vets won't be issued….though it should be…best way to lose credibility is by alienating those that give and pay in blood.


Alex2
Comment posted March 17, 2009 @ 6:51 am

You are right Senator Murray. I am a disabled Veteran receiving compensation. It is a shame that someone who is in for the “Change” is proposing this type of thing. Disabled Veterans are not t be considered this, because it is our right to receive whatis due us medically through the VA. I served my Country and now being disabled due to that fact gives me the right to receive my compensation and all medical through the VA at no cost to me and all disabled Veterans. Conidering private insurance from someone who doesn't even know how to render a salute is a dispicable thought. This administration needs to focus on taking care of what is broke, not to try and change what is already fixed.


Greg
Comment posted March 17, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

How many of you regularly rail against what you see as the US moving towards socialized medicine? Ever consider that the VA health care is one of the most socialized medical systems in the world? Now, I'm confortable with that in many ways. But for those of you saying how the US should support its soldiers by paying for their medical needs through the VA instead of billing their private medical insurance, maybe you should also reconsider the extent to which you think a free market system for health care is the best thing.


Scott
Comment posted March 18, 2009 @ 5:25 am

As a serving military member, I will comment that Veteran's do not deserve full medical care. What Obama's proposal specifically does is remove full compensation for costs of health care for injuries and conditions sustained in service to this country. THAT IS THE WORST THING I'VE EVER HEARD PROPOSED.
Should the government pay for a broken leg sustained by a veteran 20 years after service? maybe not.
Should the government pay for treatment of a disability sustained while following government orders in service of this country? Absolutely! And that is what this threatens to remove.


Scott
Comment posted March 18, 2009 @ 5:26 am

Greg, that isn't the point of this bill. See my comment above. This bill removes care for injuries caused (directly or indirectly) by this government.


Ann
Comment posted March 18, 2009 @ 7:03 am

Obama said we have to make responsible decisions in regards to cutting the budget. Well, I guess he means we should start with injured veterans –of course how brilliant! He is also proposing that active duty military pay a 10% fee on medical services they receive…what great change! I’m so glad he put over 600 BILLION toward uninsured Americans while he steps all over injured veterans and their families..


Ann
Comment posted March 18, 2009 @ 7:10 am

Why? Or, more accurately, why veterans as opposed to anyone else? Why is it apparently immoral for veterans to be denied “free, government-provided health care” but not immoral for it to be denied to the tens of millions who lack affordable health care now, including millions of children?

Larry E they are talking about veterans who are service disabled–so they were injured in the line of duty while serving OUR country. They should receive the health care they get and more, they are what makes America great. As for all the uninsured Americans I really don't have much sympathy for most because even the most uneducated (as long as they have a GED) can join the military and get health care. The bottom line is most are to lazy or they think they are 'too good' for the military. Let me guess you are writing this post from your living room complaining about the 'rich' to….


Scott
Comment posted March 18, 2009 @ 10:46 am

If a private insurance company has to pay for the service-related injury and/or disability care for a veteran, do you really think they would just eat the cost themselves? No, they are going to charge more on subscription payments and more on premiums. They are still a business and the cost will get passed onto the vets for injuries sustained under government orders.


Katrina
Comment posted March 24, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

Dear Alex2 – I couldn't agree with you more!! You, as well as all veterans have risked your lives to serve our country and to preserve my very freedom. Actually, I am a Democrat and I voted for President Obama. If this is true and our new administration is in the planning stages of cutting benefits of our veterans I (and many others who voted for him) will be outraged! Creating healthcare benefits for the millions who are without and preserving those who already have benefits was supposed to be a basis of what President Obama claimed and still claims to do. Cutting benefits to anyone with legitimate need (especially veterans) is not what we were told during the campaigne. This is not the philosophy of any Democrat…the able bodied are commanded by God to help thy fellow man who are not able. I am willing to endure higher taxes in order to pay my debt for my freedom. Veterans and current soldiers are a group in which President Obama promised to protect. He should follow through if he wants a 2nd term vote from me.


nate
Comment posted March 24, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

i think its bull crap. those soldiers should get free medicare. but they are going to give it to illegal immigrants and terrorist's. obama is a sick nut job.


Anderson
Comment posted June 18, 2009 @ 11:05 am

Obama administration would want to squander its good will in the military community is not onl y completely beyond you but also on all the citizens of states.it not a bad thing to disqus i think so…so lets leave it..
Own Occupation Disability Insurance


Jessica_Rabbit
Comment posted August 20, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

Well, obviously you are very young, in perfect health, and plan to stay that way forever. Let me tell you something…life throws you curve balls! My husband was the same way once. He has spent the last 15 years in the Marine Corps and is about to be medically retired. He has several horrible things wrong with him now that all started while in the Corps and his life, our lives, will never be the same. So forgive me if I don't quite share your views of Veteran's not deserving full benefits. You possibly should give that more thought. We do agree on one issue though. Obama's plan was the most ignorant one ever! I don't think the man has two brain cells to rub together.


Dave
Comment posted August 30, 2009 @ 12:53 am

I don't recall anyone promising me free medical care for life when I enlisted. The VA should not be covering non-service connected illnesses and injuries. Also, they should cover service connected issue without complaint. I see an un-crossable line here. I am not a liberal. I was proud to do my duty (twice) and I do not expect a hand-out from the government, actually my 2 enlistments made me want to stay far away from them. But, if I was injured or sick due to something that happened while I was on active duty I would expect the VA to help me out.


viking3543
Comment posted January 6, 2010 @ 7:52 am

IF veterans were on a insurance plan. That will be the first time since 1933 veterans would have acess to force there claims to be herd and paid in a real court. May not be so bad if they dont strip judical review from us. Terry


viking3543
Comment posted January 6, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

IF veterans were on a insurance plan. That will be the first time since 1933 veterans would have acess to force there claims to be herd and paid in a real court. May not be so bad if they dont strip judical review from us. Terry


mike
Comment posted March 19, 2010 @ 1:15 am

i take it you did not serve in the armed forces, well let me till you something i was injured in the service and i can not get out side health insurance because of it i worked 20 yrs after in the construction field building houses for people like you and i have never been able to get insurance and i still do not want the government involved in the health care of the people that i protected in the service that being you and your family,those of us that served did not impose this regime upon you you voted them in and you can vote them out don't blame the service man for giving you the right to do that. that is why we served to protect the Constitution of the united states so if you don't like it move out of my country


furniture stores
Comment posted September 3, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

I think the Coward that even had the audacity to propose the idea should step forward and claim responsibility….I'm sure he's rich and privilaged, sitting fat in an office. While US military folk are eating dust and dirt of a nation we didn't choose to go to, but we do it anyways cause it's our duty. Granted an apology to the Vets won't be issued….though it should be…best way to lose credibility is by alienating those that give and pay in blood.


Williamgipson
Comment posted January 9, 2011 @ 2:27 am

I got a letter from Washington DC. Veterans services today. They want me to give them permission to become no 1 care provider. I think not as the veterans hospital in Manchester NH. Is not so hot for getting the job done and poor decision making has to be cleaned up the Doctors are way out and years back I was always told to go on the out side for the VA is limited. No all of a sudden they want to control how you live and also treat you for health issues which they in the past have done poorly,also delays and to many places to travel for health benefits or conditions many hospitals are not set up for major surgery and the VA dosn`t have top notch doctors either. Best treatment is psychological treatments for PTSD Dr. Gilbertson is a great doctor.


Insurance Agency
Comment posted May 31, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

Our own research backs that up. We searched news databases and turned up no news organization that has ever quoted Obama this way. We conclude that these quotes are simply made-up, and perhaps intended as satire.


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.