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Obama won't have VA bill injured veterans' insurers

The proposal to save $530 million a year met strong resistance.

March 19, 2009|Washington Post

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday abandoned a proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for the treatment at VA hospitals of combat-related injuries amid an outcry from veterans' service organizations and members of Congress.

The proposal would have authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs to charge private insurers for treating injuries and other medical conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, that are related to military service. The measure was intended to save the VA about $530 million a year, but the proposal sparked resistance from leaders of powerful veterans groups, who met earlier this week with Obama.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement Wednesday that the president has "instructed that its consideration be dropped."

"In considering the third-party billing issue, the administration was seeking to maximize the resources available for veterans," Gibbs said. "However, the president listened to concerns raised by the [organization leaders] that this might, under certain circumstances, affect veterans and their families' ability to access healthcare."

Veterans groups said the policy would jeopardize the insurance benefits of veterans and their families and would be an abrogation of the government's responsibility to care for those wounded in war.

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