Obama Medical Plan For Vets Spurs Outcry

Source : http://www.washingtontimes.com

President Obama's plan to generate extra budget money by forcing veterans to pay for some medical treatments through their private insurance is generating a firestorm among Republicans, Democrats and veterans, who argue that it's unconscionable to pass along the costs of war to those injured serving their country.

The administration for weeks has circulated on Capitol Hill a plan to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in savings by tapping veterans' private insurance for service-related injuries and ailments that for decades the government has been obligated to pay. On Monday, the president and his aides discussed the plan with veterans groups, who said the president told them it would generate $540 million.

It got an angry response.

"The United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies," said American Legion Commander David K. Rehbein. "The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service-connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans."

The administration publicly has been reticent on the issue. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs did not dispute that the plan was floated, but said Tuesday that no decisions have been made.

He said Mr. Obama "understands any concerns" the veterans groups have but also told them that his budget increases overall spending for veterans by 11 percent.

Despite the criticism over the proposal, veterans groups generally have given the administration high marks for increasing the VA's budget.

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