Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama Drops Proposal to Bill Insurance for Vets' Combat Injuries

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2009 - President Barack Obama has dropped a proposal to bill veterans' private health insurance for combat-related injuries, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday.

The Obama administration proposed authorizing the Department of Veterans Affairs to bill private insurers for treatment of combat-related injuries. VA officials estimated the proposal would have saved the government more than $500 million.

VA already recoups money from vets insurance for noncombat-related treatment.

Strong opposition from Congress and veterans groups caused the administration to rethink the proposal. In a written statement, Gibbs said Obama "is committed to working with veterans on the details of the 2010 VA Budget Proposal."

The president understands the sacrifices American veterans have made, and that is why the administration has asked for "the largest increase in the VA budget in 30 years," the spokesman said. The proposed VA budget for fiscal 2010 is $113 billion, up from $98 billion this year.

"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 [veterans service organizations] that this might, under certain circumstances, affect veterans and their families' ability to access health care," Gibbs said. "Therefore, the president has instructed that its consideration be dropped."

The press secretary added that Obama wants to continue working with all concerned.

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