03.18.09

Statement In Opposition To An Obama Administration Proposal Concerning Private Insurance And Veterans Health Care

Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate National Guard Caucus

The Obama Administration is considering a budget trimming proposal that would include billing private health insurance companies for treating the service-connected conditions of veterans.  I am disappointed that the Administration has let this bad idea slip through the door and into the budget plan.  I do not expect this to make it into the budget that Congress will consider, and I will oppose it if an effort is made to include it.  

The Obama Administration will soon propose a detailed veterans budget for the next fiscal year, which is expected to propose substantial new increases in resources for veterans health care.  The President deserves credit for pushing for a greater investment in veterans services, including health care.  His efforts to make veterans a higher priority in budget decisions reflect his longstanding commitment to change veterans health care for the better, and I will continue to support greater resources for veterans services to achieve that.

When someone enters the Armed Forces, they enter into an unstated but inviolable contract with all of us as Americans.  This fundamental bond promises that if a service member is injured or wounded in the line-of-duty, the government will provide the necessary treatment, as well as the funding to resolve and treat these heroes.  The proposal to bill private insurers goes against that fundamental bond.  

There are also some practical problems with such a proposal, including the possibility that private insurers would offer and provide less coverage to the family of a service-member. 

Congress and the President should work together to find other ways to save money instead of proposals like this that would burden our veterans.

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