Thursday, March 19, 2009

MOAA "Our voices were heard" - White House scratches VA plan for private insurance

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White House caves on veterans plan, but what was it thinking?
McClatchy DC ^ | March 18, 2009 | David Goldstein

Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009 5:40:01 AM by 2ndDivisionVet

The Obama administration on Wednesday abandoned a controversial plan to make veterans use private insurance to pay for costly treatments of combat-related injuries.

Stung by the angry reaction to the proposal, the administration made the decision after a meeting between officials from 11 veterans advocacy groups and top White House officials.

"Our voices were heard," said Norbert Ryan, the president of the Military Officers Association of America. "They made the right decision on this."

The plan would've reversed a longstanding policy of providing government health coverage for all service-related injuries. Few details emerged beyond its reported savings of $540 million, however.

Most veterans use private insurance only for health problems unrelated to their military service.

"This is a moral issue for us," said Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

What was most puzzling to experienced activists and others was that the White House floated the idea in the first place. Several said that the administration came off as politically tone deaf to the importance of the issue.

"They've grabbed hold of the 'third rail' and they shouldn't have done this," said Rick Weidman, director of government relations for Vietnam Veterans of America. "If they had asked anyone informally, we would have informed them, 'Are you kidding? All hell will break loose.'"

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that the intent of the plan had been to "maximize the resources available for veterans."

He said, however, that President Barack Obama, who met with the veterans groups on Monday in their first trip to the White House, recognized their concern that it could "under certain circumstances, affect veterans and their families' ability to access health care."

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: agenda; bho2009; bho44; gatheringofeagles; obama; pelosi; socializedmedicine; veterans

1 comment:

Abbe Buck, Public Relations / Public Affairs / Needs Analysis said...

American Legion Commander Praises Obama’s Change in Plan

WASHINGTON (March 18, 2009) – The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization applauded President Obama for dropping his 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,” said National Commander David K Rehbein of The American Legion. “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.”

Following a meeting this afternoon with The American Legion and other veterans service organizations, the White House announced that it will no longer considering billing insurance companies or veterans for their service-connected disabilities.

“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 Medicare-eligible nonservice-connected veterans. 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.”

With a current membership of 2.6 million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and the mentoring of youth. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.

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Media contacts: Craig Roberts,(202) 263-2982, Cell (202) 406-0887 or Joe March, (317) 630-1253; Cell (317) 748-1926.

A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Rehbein is available at