March 12, 2009
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 the proposal would be “dead on arrival” if it’s sent to Congress, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said.
[efoods]Murray used that blunt terminology when she told Shinseki that the idea would not be acceptable and would be rejected if formally proposed. Her remarks came during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs 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 voicing their opposition to the idea after hearing the plan was under consideration.
The groups also cited an increase in “third-party collections” estimated in the 2010 budget proposal — something they said could be achieved only if the Veterans Administration 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.
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