Shinseki’s Shame: Veterans to Pay for Treatment?

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 9 months ago

The Captain’s Journal had decided to wait before weighing in on the appointment of General Eric Shinseki to head Veteran’s Affairs.  We’re glad we did.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance, but was told by lawmakers that it would be “dead on arrival” if sent to Congress.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray used that blunt terminology, telling Shinseki that the idea would not be acceptable and would be rejected if formally proposed. She made the remarks during a Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing about the 2010 budget.

No official proposal to create such a program has been announced publicly, but veterans groups wrote a pre-emptive letter last week to President Obama opposing the idea after hearing the plan was under consideration. The groups also noticed an increase in “third-party collections” estimated in the 2010 budget proposal—something they said could only be achieved if the VA started billing for service-related injuries.

Asked about the proposal, Shinseki said it was under “consideration.”

“A final decision hasn’t been made yet,” he said.

A second senator, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, said he agreed that the idea should not go forward.

“I think you will give that up” as a revenue stream, if it is included in this April’s budget, Burr said.

Sen. Murray said she’d already discussed her concerns with the secretary the previous week.

“I believe that veterans with service-connected injuries have already paid by putting their lives on the line,” Murray said in her remarks. “I don’t think we should nickel and dime them for their care.”

Eleven of the most prominent veterans organizations have been lobbying Congress to oppose the idea. In the letter sent last week to President Barack Obama, the veterans groups warned that the idea “is wholly unacceptable and a total abrogation of our government’s moral and legal responsbility (sic) to the men and women who have sacrificed so much.”

The groups included The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

At the time, a White House spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the option was being considere (sic).

Carefully consider what is happening here.  Even if this move is fashioned as companies paying their fair share, it is still a dark, sinister and sinful plan.  We are left without much to go on with the paucity of facts in the report above.  But let’s assume the best – that veterans still get treatment in full, paid for by the VA, unless they happen to work for a company with insurance who covers injuries to veterans (without considering them a so-called pre-existing condition).

The problem here is that if company A doesn’t hire injured veterans, and company B does and also happens to have an insurance benefit, then company B is penalized.  They are essentially taxed for having veterans under their employ.  The economy is not a perpetual motion machine, or another way of saying it is that money doesn’t grow on trees, unless you work for the U.S. Treasury.

Medical insurance means that everyone contributes out of his or her paycheck towards the health of everyone.  This cushion means that the company which hires any veteran who needs medical treatment (versus the company which doesn’t) is actually financially worse off because of it, especially small companies.  Now for the problem.  This is a disincentive for hiring veterans.

This scenario above is the best of all possible worlds, i.e., that all veterans are still covered for medical treatment in full.  According to the information above, this simply isn’t so, and veterans might have to pay out of pocket for their treatment.

Many veterans come home and continue to fight for all they are worth to keep from dying, and then to live with their injuries and disabilities.  They never leave the battle space.

So now Eric Shinseki must sit and ask himself what happened to his soul that he could abandon his fellow warriors on the field of battle like he has done, trying to save a few dollars while schemes are concocted to throw that very money away into useless programs.  And then when he finally determines how he lost his soul, perhaps he will have enough of one left to feel the shame that will always be his for the rest of his life.

  • Warbucks

    Perhaps an alternative would be to grant life-time paid up medical benefits for full coverage and no deductibles for all vets, widows and spouses of deceased vets, and orphans of vets. Then let the Vets use any hospital or health care system he or she chooses.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Yea. That’s a viable solution. Not one this administration would support. They want to take the treatment money for veteran’s and throw it into social programs.

  • davod

    “Yea. That’s a viable solution. Not one this administration would support. They want to take the treatment money for veteran’s and throw it into social programs.”

    More likely, turn the VA, then military medical facilities, into public facilities.


You are currently reading "Shinseki’s Shame: Veterans to Pay for Treatment?", entry #2426 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) The Wounded,Veterans and was published March 12th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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