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Obama Gives Back of His Hand to Wounded, Sick Veterans

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In a startling, unprecedented and shameful move on Monday, President Barack Obama enraged leaders of 11 of America's principal veterans service organizations (VSOs), at a meeting celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Department of Veterans Affairs' elevation to Cabinet status held at VA headquarters in Washington, D.C., telling them that a proposal to order the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to bill veterans' private insurance companies for treatment for service-connected injuries and illnesses is still under consideration.

A report from CNN notes:

Some of the veterans groups were caught off guard when the president said the administration is still thinking about the idea as a way of generating $540 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010. The groups and some members of Congress have been very vocal in opposing the idea.

"Veterans of all generations agree that this proposal is bad for the country and bad for veterans. If the president and the OMB want to cut costs, they can start at AIG, not the VA," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, in a written statement.

Jay Agg, a spokesman for AMVETS said, "This flies in the face of the VA's covenant to cover all service-related health-care expenses."

FOX News quotes American Legion Commander David K. Rehbein, invoking the VA's motto, saying:

This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate 'to care for him who shall have borne the battle,' given that the United States government sent members of the Armed Forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies…I say again that 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.

From the Revolutionary War onward, America has had a long, proud history of providing for its citizens who have served in its armed forces and who have paid the price of shedding their blood in defense of our country. The nation's earliest efforts left much to be desired in their scope, but the intent has always been to care for and support those who fought our battles.

Today's Department of Veterans Affairs saw its birth in July, 1930 as the Veterans Administration, a sub-Cabinet level agency charged with a variety of responsibilities to veterans, including medical services, disability compensation, and allowances for World War I veterans.

In 1944, as World War II wound down, Congress passed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, which quickly became popularly known as the GI Bill of Rights. With its passage, the role of the Veterans Administration was greatly expanded, encompassing job training, educational benefits, home, farm and business loans, life insurance, and unemployment insurance, as well as health care and compensation for wounded and disabled veterans returning from the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation to elevate the Veterans Administration to Cabinet level, and twenty years ago, on March 15, 1989, the newly created Cabinet Department was renamed the Department of Veterans Affairs, with Edward J. Derwinski as its first Secretary. Three administrations comprised the new Department: the Veterans Health Administration; the Veterans Benefits Administration; and the National Cemetery System.

During all the years of its existence in various incarnations, the prime mission of the VA has always been the care, at no expense, of wounded and sick combat veterans. All veterans who have served honorably are eligible for treatment for non service-connected problems on a fee-paid basis, subject to means testing, but injured, maimed, and diseased veterans who incurred their debilities as a result of their service have never been required to pay for treatment from the VA.

From Facts About the Department of Veterans Affairs, published online by the VA:

Almost 5.5 million people received care in VA health care facilities in 2008.  By the end of fiscal year 2008, 78 percent of all disabled and low-income veterans had enrolled with VA for health care; 65 percent of them were treated by VA.  In 2008, VA inpatient facilities treated 773,600 patients.  VA’s outpatient clinics registered over 60 million visits…Veterans with service-connected disabilities receive priority access to care for hospitalization and outpatient care….VA's fiscal year 2009 spending is projected to be approximately $93.4 billion, including $40 billion for health care, $46.9 billion for benefits, and $230 million for the national cemetery system. (Emphasis added)

With a national budget of $3.1 trillion, and a VA health care budget of $40 billion, the $540 million projected to be saved by the president's proposal is negligible, but the ill will it will generate among the nation's more than 23 million living veterans is sure to come back to haunt the administration for a long time to come.

It's a shameful treatment of men and women who have sacrificed for all of us, especially as this same administration continues to pour hundreds of billions into the coffers of failing corporations while demanding practically no conditions at all from them.

Shame, Mr. President!

“All gave some. Some gave all”

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About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • Jordan Richardson

    Shame, Mr. President!

    Agreed. Nicely written, Clav.

  • M (a)r {….!…} ¶/ ® k

    outfuckingrageous – eof

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Well written Clavos – no surprise, though…

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Actually, it is a surprise. But, obviously, I’m with you on this Clav. I bet it wasn’t a vet who thought of this one.

    B

  • STM

    Yeah, nice one Clav. As we discussed the other day, it’s well known around the world how well the US looks after its veterans. They deserve the best – not second best – too for what they’ve done. Money shouldn’t be an issue at all here.

    There are a million and one other places the government can find savings of that amount.

    A couple of (failed) executives’ packages funded by taxpayers might be a good place to start.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Clav,

    Excellent article, and I agree that it is a shameful thing to do.

    I do have a few questions. The header for the article says, “America’s veterans are being asked to pay again — in cash, this time.” I could find no reference in the body of the article to paying in cash (or, of course, cash equivalents). I assume that medical insurance companies already covering veterans would be billed for covered procedures. Would the VA refuse to pick up the costs not reimbursed by the insurance companies?

    The article itself does not suggest that veterans would be required, as a condition of treatment through the VA, to obtain additional medical insurance. Is that part of the proposal now under consideration? Also, does the proposal cover treatment for service related conditions, or only those which are not service related? The comment from American Legion Commander David K. Rehbein appears to speak only to service related conditions.

    Even assuming that no additional coverage, and no actual cash payment by veterans for VA services, would be required, the proposal is ill advised. The $540 million or so to be recouped by the VA would, at least marginally, increase already excessive medical insurance costs overall — a problem which President Obama’s overall health care program allegedly seeks to fix.

    While quite Machiavellian, is it possible that this is a ploy to screw veterans in order to enlist their various organizations in support of that overall health care plan? I seriously doubt it, and would be more inclined to attribute it to yet another Teleprompter malfunction.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Clavos

    Thanks to all for your kind comments.

    Dan, you’re a great living testimonial to the value of a good Ivy League education, those are excellent questions — look ‘em up. :>)

    Seriously:

    Veterans are currently required to obtain medical insurance (or otherwise pay-on a means-tested sliding scale) for treatment of non service-connected ailments, but, obviously, not for service-connected, until now. I’ve not been able so far to find any specifics on the issue, but will keep looking and post them when I do. I would say that for most vets it would be a moot point, as few of us go to the VA exclusively for our service-connected treatment, so we are already paying for other treatments with private insurance.

    And on that point, your observation about the article sub-head is correct, as noted in the article itself, Obama is not proposing an actual cash payment (though I wonder what would happen to a vet who requires eligible treatment and doesn’t have insurance?).

    One of the cited articles also mentions the possibility that Medicare would be used in lieu of requiring private insurance, which idea, naturally enough, the VSO reps indicated they would not oppose, but which is likely to exacerbate the financial problems of the already overburdened Medicare system.

    Mr. President, just drop it, already!

  • Cindy

    Great article Clav! It makes me mad…especially right after the AIG execs walk away with free money.

    I don’t get what the difference is between Medicare funding and VA funding? One is directly funded through federal income tax(?) and the other is funded through payroll tax?

    So, if people didn’t have private insurance and just used medicare instead–or whatever the set-up is–isn’t that just like creating a whole bunch of paperwork and needless shuffling of information that just results in the same thing?

  • Clavos

    Dan,

    It may take some time to get more information regarding your questions; as this article, just published by CNSNews indicates:

    White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs declined on Tuesday to provide any further explanation of a plan the administration is considering to have the Department of Veterans Affairs bill the private heath insurance of veterans for service-related injuries.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It won’t fly. Somebody didn’t think this one through.

  • M (a) ® k

    I guess that this is just more of Obama’s attempt to prove that he’s not a socialist.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Did I miss something? Obama hasn’t decided anything and yet he is still doing something shameful? And this potential policy shift has been under discussion for longer than he has been in office? Is that it?

    If so, I can only hope the author’s navigational skills are better in real storms than the one in this teacup!

  • Clavos

    Yes, Chris, even merely considering such a move is shameful, and an abrogation of the nation’s debt to its veterans; not to mention an incredibly stupid gaffe from a political standpoint.

    And although the idea was first put on the table during the Clinton administration, it rightfully died aborning back then. The Obama people have just revived it.

    This may be a small issue to you, but to those of us who have actually shed blood and require treatment, it is not, especially when it would reverse a venerable policy.

    My navigation skills are excellent, thank you.

  • zingzing

    what was that veteran’s hospital in dc a couple of years back? oh yeah, walter reed… “proud history,” my ass. we’ve been fucking over veterans for centuries, and we will continue to do so well into the future.

    obviously, this isn’t a good thing–IF obama actually does it. right now, considering all options for saving money IS a good thing. let the veterans get a little mud on their face. they’re men. they can take more than a mild slapping. right?

    but don’t act like this is the first, or the worst, bad thing the government has ever done to veterans. shame.

  • Clavos

    except, zing, walter reed isn’t a va hospital; it belongs to, and is run by the us army. the va’s history is a ‘proud’ one of service to vets.

    considering all options for saving money IS a good thing. let the veterans get a little mud on their face. they’re men. they can take more than a mild slapping. right?

    if saving money is a good thing, let’s save money by not giving it to all those moribund banks and auto mfrs. we’ll save a lot more than a paltry $540 mil, and won’t be breaking any promises made to people who actually have done something for the country.

    but don’t act like this is the first, or the worst, bad thing the government has ever done to veterans.

    show me where i said it was the first.

    but you’re right, since we’ve fucked veterans before, it doesn’t matter, and we’re off the hook, so let’s fuck ‘em again.

    what an ass…

  • M (a) ® k

    right now, considering all options for saving money IS a good thing.

    You’re being sardonic, right?

  • zingzing

    “except, zing, walter reed isn’t a va hospital; it belongs to, and is run by the us army. the va’s history is a ‘proud’ one of service to vets.”

    gov’t is gov’t is gov’t is gov’t.

    “show me where i said it was the first.”

    show me where i said “said.”

    “we’ll save a lot more than a paltry $540 mil, and won’t be breaking any promises made to people who actually have done something for the country.”

    true. but we haven’t even saved $540 million yet. you really think it’ll fly? neither do i. we’re also considering cutting education. you think that will fly? you bet. and those kids haven’t done a damn thing to this country. so why we want to fuck them over? the answer is that no one WANTS to fuck over veterans and children.

    “what an ass…”

    at least i’m not falling into quoting fox news. so i haven’t even begun to plumb the depths of my ass… oh, that’s gross.

    m, parenthesis, a, close parenthesis, registered trademark, k: “You’re being sardonic, right?”

    not really. not on a larger scale. i wouldn’t agree this is where we need to save the money, but i’d have to say the same thing about educational cuts and a host of other considerations we’re making right now. but i would say that THINKING about all our options is a good thing.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Clav, #9

    Yep. And, if they have even a modicum of good sense, there will be no more about it. Unlike some recent legislation, perhaps if it does eventually surface in the Congress, there will be some discussion of the exact proposal. It would, however, be easy to stick it in an unrelated bill (subsidies for Acorn wheat growers, perhaps) where it would be difficult to find unless one were to know that it’s there.

    Zingzing, true, the Obama administration can run any idea it wishes up the flagpole; some might even salute. Forced abortions for mothers with more than two children, compulsory euthanasia for folks over sixty, mandatory public service in CCC camps for everyone over eight years of age, etc. These things would be pretty ill advised even to suggest, but then President Obama won, and I guess he will act in accordance with his own lights.

    I am very skeptical that the Screw the Vets idea would save anyone any money; it would just shift the costs out of the public sector and into the private sector. Not a bad idea for press conferences on the budget though, unless someone digs a bit.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Good point that it’s not a done deal. I give credit to the President for at least being honest about it while faced with a room full of angry folks who Know How To Use Things That Go Bang.

    Another thing: sure $540 mil won’t make much of a dent in the deficit and there is an excellent case for not clobbering vets; but there are no doubt a host of other programs/special interests in danger of having the federal rug pulled from under them, each of which is in itself a drop in the ocean and each of which has a compelling argument for continued funding.

    Collect enough drops and you will have yourself an ocean.

  • zingzing

    dan: “Forced abortions for mothers with more than two children, compulsory euthanasia for folks over sixty, mandatory public service in CCC camps for everyone over eight years of age, etc. ”

    how’s that for “sardonic,” mark?

    either way, which do you think is the more important “slap” to the american people? $540 mil to the veterans? or our nation’s future (educational cuts)? let’s have some perspective here. NOTHING IS SACRED at this point. and nothing has been for a long time.

  • м @ ® ĸ

    It’s well known that sardonicism is Dan’s middle name.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Clavos, having read the CNN story you linked to in your article, I still think you are tea-cupping.

    What would be shameful is not considering all possible ways of managing this system, that’s what they’re there for.

    When this first blew up, it seems there was just the one proposal, the one you so plainly dislike. Now there are several to consider, which many might think was the point.

    The central point seems to be that the insurance companies are getting a free ride and, if that is the case, trying to find some equitable way of re-balancing that isn’t shameful, it’s good business practice.

    Given that there is also a proposal to increase the overall budget for vets considerably, your outrage is possibly just a tad disproportionate.

  • Cindy

    It seems it’s always about the same thing–shifting the care of peoples’ real needs “the burden” around between the public and private sectors.

    I am tempted to leave the strike tag open.

  • Clavos

    false dichotomy, zing. it’s not a case of either the vets or the kids, it’s a case of either the vets or anything else.

    so let’s try a little either the vets or the execs of aig, fer instance.

    some other possibilities:

    vets or national endowment for the arts

    vets or (uaw) auto workers

    vets or studying why pigs smell

    vets or congressional perks (pelosi’s aircraft rides, e.g.)

    i could spend the rest of the day listing choices that wouldn’t harm kids in any way (btw, making vets’ insurance companies pay could harm their kids as they reach their limits)

    another specious argument, zing.

  • Cindy

    It appears they were too busy thinking about screwing little veteran people to have devoted sufficient time to thinking about how to prevent AIG using bailout money to reward execs.

  • Clavos

    The central point seems to be that the insurance companies are getting a free ride and, if that is the case, trying to find some equitable way of re-balancing that isn’t shameful, it’s good business practice.

    Except that the proposal will ultimately shift the burden (thanks, Cindy) to the vets — the insurance companies will make sure of that; their premiums will likely increase, and those who are severely wounded and/or disabled could conceivably reach their caps, endangering the health care of their families. Many of the service-connected vets don’t even have private insurance for themselves — they’ve not needed it. Now, they’ll have to find it — with pre-existing ailments.

    Given that there is also a proposal to increase the overall budget for vets considerably, your outrage is possibly just a tad disproportionate.

    So in your view it’s logical that the Messiah giveth and the Messiah taketh away?

  • Cindy

    Besides what Clav mentioned, will they have copays? Problems with coverage? Hours on the phone arguing with insurance companies? (and etc. that I am too mad to think of at the moment) These in addition to the burden they already live with due to their military injuries?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    1. It’s only a proposal, and it isn’t going to happen. Several Democrats in Congress have already called it ‘dead on arrival.’

    2. The policy was not aimed at vets, but at insurance companies. In many cases they are being paid premiums but are not providing any payouts for coverage. Direct a bit of your outrage at them.

    3. The president himself met with leaders of veterans’ groups to discuss this, immediately. Does this really sound like someone who is deliberately trying to disrespect or ‘screw’ veterans?

    4. The increases proposed by the president for the VA are hardly minor: 11% in 2010 and $25 billion over 5 years. Again, does this sound like a proposal of someone trying to hurt veterans?

  • Cindy

    Obama backs off plan to alter vets’ healthcare

    By Roxana Tiron
    Posted: 03/18/09 03:42 PM [ET]

    The White House on Wednesday backed off a controversial plan that would have dramatically altered the way the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handles insurance claims, after veterans groups staged an all-out fight against such a proposal.

    President Obama will not pursue a proposal that would have allowed the VA to charge private insurance companies for the treatment of veterans with service- and war-related injuries.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Democracy at work.

  • bliffle

    Maybe the intent is not to shift cost to Veterans but rather to their private insurance companies.

    “…proposal to order the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to bill veterans’ private insurance companies for treatment for service-connected injuries and illnesses…”

    As stated, it would only result in increased cost to vets if the insCos shift burden thru increased premiums, which they could do.

    Even so, sounds like a bad idea to me. Sounds like a continuation of the Bush cost-saving policies vis a vis Vets over the past 8 years.

  • Cindy

    Vets were also worried that it would interfere with their ability to get hired as businesses would be considering the increased costs to insure them.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Oh good, now we can all get back to the national pastime:

    We must all boil with rage for at least a few more days about those AIG bonuses.

    … until we forget about them and move on to the next instant outrage.

  • Cindy

    It doesn’t bother you handy? It’ll bother me very much for quite a long time. In fact, it will probably go into my permanent file.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clav,

    Well, first, given Cindy’s #29 this may all be moot. As I noted above, such a move would be odious at best. However, given the turns this discussion has taken, it does appear that the issue itself is dead and that it was nowhere near becoming a reality.

    I think Obama has run a number of things up the old flag pole, and will continue to do so in an effort to find a means to reduce spending and, in consequence, the deficit. No doubt he’s going to continue to strike some nerves. About everyone is going to feel the pinch one way or the other.

    BTW – I have no health insurance of any kind, nor does my wife. I use the VA exclusively for all of my medical needs excepting for dental care and glasses. I pay approximately $40 bucks everytime I set foot in the hospital – that includes any and all tests including 3 colonoscopies and 2 knee scopes.

    I continue to get whatever medications I need, which thankfully aren’t many, through the VA. Actually, I think I could get them cheaper from most pharmacies ever since WalMart began offering $4.00 prescriptions and most others have followed suit. But I feel it’s best to keep it all under one roof as it were. They can pull up everything on their computer in seconds.

    One other thought: Maybe, if people would drop the “messiah” and other such references there would be less ill will. That is more a response to the perceived responses of the Obama faithful than of Obama himself. I’ve seen nothing in anything he has said or done that even suggests that he has any such notion about himself or his administration.

    Oh, and to anyone: I don’t believe that Obama is any kind of socialist. But, if he is, I really don’t give a rat’s ass. If the balance of our economy and government moves more to the left in the ensuing years, it more than likely will be a good thing. So far, the so called free market hasn’t turned out so well for the majority of us.

    B

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Cindy, the AIG thing? Of course it bothers me, but I think it’s a distraction too. And cable news is beating it completely to death. And politicians of both parties are demagoguing it shamelessly. Those things bother me too.

    Populist rage — or canned media ‘rage’ — is pretty cheap currency. It could also have unfortunate side effects, like preventing the government from taking further steps to fix the banking/credit system. And if that’s not fixed, we’ll really have something to rage about.

    Wonkette sums up my attitude in a couple of their headlines from the last couple days:

    Erupting Boils Of Rage And Pustules Of Righteousness, Coast To Coast

    Special Tar-And-Feathers Liveblog: The AIG Guy’s Worst Wednesday Afternoon Ever

    AIG CEO Will Testify, Then Go Immediately To Guantanamo

  • Cindy

    Well, it is more meaningful than that to me–conveniently reinforcing the protection of the wealthy as it does.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    But, I must agree with handy. This is far more of a tempest/teapot issue than anything of real substance. It’s maddening and an obvious embarrassment, but in the end it will be largely forgotten in a few days or weeks at most. There are a lot of bigger fish to fry as it were.

    It appears that it will take a great deal more time for big corporate execs, wall streeters, bankers, etc. to wake up and smell the coffee. They see themselves as special – and talk about “entitlements!” They truly look upon themselves as “entitled” to millions – not because they’re any smarter, or work any harder than the rest of us, but simply because they reside within the hallowed halls of corporate America – where they ply their trade.

    On one level, they may be, or appear to be basically good, well meaning people, but there is a mindset which many such people possess that is obnoxious and condescending to everybody not of their ilk. It may ultimately serve them and perhaps the rest of us well if they get their legs knocked out from under them – if they have to – at least for a time – worry about making a mortgage payment or having money for their kids’ braces or maybe having to let go their country club membership. (Oh, the horror!) Maybe a little coupon clipping?

    Ultimately, I don’t suppose the above will happen to many of them. But, perhaps, just the threat of such circumstances might serve to knock some of them off their fucking ivory towers.

    Nah, probably not.

    B

  • zingzing

    clavos: “false dichotomy, zing. it’s not a case of either the vets or the kids, it’s a case of either the vets or anything else.”

    that’s the point, clavos. i’m not saying it’s vets or kids, i’m saying there are loads of hard decisions we’re going to have to make. this is just another one of those things. but the straight-up fact is that this thing with the vets probably won’t happen (maybe, in part, because of articles like this), while the thing with the kids already has.

  • Clavos

    First, thanks to all who have commented, it’s been a lively, yet civil discussion. Somewhat of a rarity on Politics threads.

    Some thoughts/responses:

    handy @# 28:,

    The policy was not aimed at vets, but at insurance companies.

    Perhaps. But Obama’s people should have been smart enough to see how misguided the idea was, because there’s no way the insurance companies would not have passed their increased costs on. Additionally, what would have happened to vets like Baritone, who don’t have coverage? Try seeking new coverage with a host of pre-existing problems, such as a combat vet has.

    In many cases they are being paid premiums but are not providing any payouts for coverage.

    Would you have a citation for that? Even brain-addled, PTSD crazed, tripwire combat vets aren’t stupid enough to buy insurance they’ll not use. cf. Baritone, above, and comment #35.

    The president himself met with leaders of veterans’ groups to discuss this, immediately. Does this really sound like someone who is deliberately trying to disrespect or ‘screw’ veterans?

    Actually, given the tenor of the meeting, as reported by the articles I cited, yes, it does. During the meeting he essentially told the VSO leaders he would do it, no matter what their concerns.

    The increases proposed by the president for the VA are hardly minor: 11% in 2010 and $25 billion over 5 years. Again, does this sound like a proposal of someone trying to hurt veterans?

    Not all of them, no. But regardless of how much the VA’s overall budget is increased, the proposal would have hurt those of us who, at present do not have to pay for our service-connected injuries and illnesses.

    Doc @# 30:

    Indeed. And one of the reasons why ours is still a better system than anything else that has come down the pike so far.

    Bliffle @# 31:

    As stated, it would only result in increased cost to vets if the insCos shift burden thru increased premiums, which they could do.

    And they would have. As surely as the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

    Cindy @# 32:

    True. Also, vets who own their own small businesses were worried for the same reason.

    Cindy @# 34:

    Me too. I won’t soon forget it, and it does give me another perspective on Mr. Obama.

    B-Tone @# 35:

    I think Obama has run a number of things up the old flag pole, and will continue to do so in an effort to find a means to reduce spending and, in consequence, the deficit. No doubt he’s going to continue to strike some nerves. About everyone is going to feel the pinch one way or the other.

    That’s his job. Ours is to bird dog him along the way.

    I have no health insurance of any kind, nor does my wife.

    Lucky you. I do, and have to — to cover the 20% of my wife’s bills (+/- $80K annually) that Medicare doesn’t cover, as well as her prescription bills ($5K monthly).

    They can pull up everything on their computer in seconds.

    So can you. Have you signed up for MyHealtheVet yet?

    One other thought: Maybe, if people would drop the “messiah” and other such references there would be less ill will. That is more a response to the perceived responses of the Obama faithful than of Obama himself.

    Perhaps. But the man has his share of hubris, as well. cf: His demeanor during the meetings with the VSO folks as reported by my links.

    Handy @# 36:

    AIG CEO Will Testify, Then Go Immediately To Guantanamo

    Great idea, though I’d rather we shot them. I’ll chip in on the air fare.

    In conclusion:

    It’s been interesting (and eye-opening) to me that so many of you who are self-described liberals strongly in favor of the government paying for everyone’s health care aren’t more sympathetic to the vets’ stance on this issue.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Or there was Sen. Grassley’s delicate suggestion that the AIG execs should publicly apologize, then commit suicide.

    That’s just the kind of bracing rhetoric we need from our leaders during a crisis, by gum.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Just to clarify, my bit about premiums came from the CNN article:

    “The vets are paying premiums to insurance companies, and that is a free ride that needs to stop,” Gorman said in describing the president’s message to the group.

    There might be another idea floating too:

    Both AMVETS and Disabled American Veterans believe that the VA could raise more revenue by being more aggressive about pursuing billings for non-service-connected treatments. Increasing third-party billing for non-service related injuries by 10 percent, suggested Agg, would free up more money to help service-related injuries.

  • Clavos

    Just to clarify, my bit about premiums came from the CNN article:

    “The vets are paying premiums to insurance companies, and that is a free ride that needs to stop,” Gorman said in describing the president’s message to the group.

    Yeah, well. Not the first time the President has gotten it wrong.

    Both AMVETS and Disabled American Veterans believe that the VA could raise more revenue by being more aggressive about pursuing billings for non-service-connected treatments. Increasing third-party billing for non-service related injuries by 10 percent, suggested Agg, would free up more money to help service-related injuries.

    A worthy idea. No reason why those being treated for non service-connected ailments shouldn’t pay in the same way they would at another medical facility.

  • Clavos

    Or there was Sen. Grassley’s delicate suggestion that the AIG execs should publicly apologize, then commit suicide.

    Actually, he was suggesting they should emulate the Japanese and apologize OR commit suicide.

  • Cindy

    I think I liked it handy’s way better.

    “AIG execs should publicly apologize, then commit suicide.”

    I don’t really mean it rhetorically though.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clav,

    Well, it is great – for me. However, as I imagine you can relate to, not so good for my wife. She’s pretty much hanging out there. She’s had 2 abdominal surgeries owing to diverticulitis and a resultant perforation of her colon which damn near killed her. In each case the hospital read the handwriting on the wall and chose to write off their portion which was around $50000., but we still had to pay the surgeon, the anesthetist, labs, imaging (X-Ray, MRI,) pharmacy, etc. to the tune of around $30000. (We’re down to about the last $3500.)

    What president didn’t have his share of hubris? It pretty much goes with the territory. I think a lot of people who became inured to the Bush – uh – style just can’t wrap their minds around a president who actually has a command of the language and an air of personal dignity. Obama is not condescending, he is simply confident.

    Did you happen to see his town hall in Cal earlier this evening? He took questions and comfortably answered – and with NO teleprompter.

    B

  • Lumpy

    I can understand why Obama might cinsider this measure , but bringing it up at an appearance before veterans groups seems remarkably stupid and insensitive.

  • Pleiku 69-71

    If you want to save money, quit fighting wars we don’t need to be fighting, the money could be used to bail out anouther coruped Gov.agencie

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Stupid and insensitive? No. A miscalculation, perhaps. Again, his goal was to involve the insurance companies. The miscalculation comes with not thinking down the road as to how, as Clav suggests, the costs could be passed on to the vets via higher premiums and/or co-pays.

    The error as I see it is that the private sector should be kept as far away from the VA as possible. The VA works. It is SOCIALIZED
    medicine! It’s not perfect. It’s run by humans after all. But it works. No other system in this country offers such a wide range of care under one roof. Don’t mess.

    B

  • jamminsue

    On the Rachel Maddow show onMSNBC this evening, it appears Obama has backed offfrom this idea.

    Cool!

  • Cannonshop

    #45: Agreed. There’s tall buildings, with windows, so they don’t even have to run afoul of New York’s handgun laws to do so, and it would provide some make-work to stimulate the economy.

    The only problem, of course, is that they would need the NYPD to clear the streets for the jump so that innocent folks who were screwed over don’t get insult added to injury.

    Notably: VA doesn’t work well, but it DOES work-a rare thing in any government agency not directly designed to kill people and break their stuff. It doesn’t hold up to Civilian standards, but it does provide better care than relying on poverty-ER medicine or other “Public Health” systems in this country.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    It doesn’t hold up to Civilian standards…

    I disagree. While you can’t go to the VA to get a face lift or a tummy tuck, there is little that one can’t get if needed from the VA. No doubt some facilities are better than others, but that’s just as true in the private sector.

    Clavos indicated that the VA hospital in Miami is exemplary and I believe the facility here in Indy is as well.

    In the ten or so years I have been going to the VA, I have rarely had to wait more than 15 or 20 minutes for an appointment. I see my primary physician at least twice a year who facilitates getting me into the various clinics – ortho, heart, etc. I always receive appointment reminders in the mail, and often a phone call the day prior.

    I am claustrophobic. I had a conventional MRI for my knee which turned out to be 35 minutes of relative terror. While they don’t have an open sided MRI at the hospital, they had no problem outsourcing me to a private facility for my next MRI for my other knee. Both of my knee scopes have been outsourced, so that I wouldn’t have a long wait to get them done.

    The clientele at the VA is somewhat specialized. There are no kids. The great majority of patients are men, although owing to the rise in women serving in the military and coming into harm’s way, there is a growing contingent of women patients as well.

    Many of the patients are an older, cantankerous lot. Many are poor. Of course a large number of them are disabled in some manner. It ain’t no suburban spa.

    But, regardless, the quality of the care and the facility is, IMO, first rate.

    B

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com/ Mark Schannon

    Clavos,

    Agree completely with your sentiments. Thankfully, someone with more brains & sensitivity alerted the higher ups to this nonsense & the White House today withdrew the idea.

    I’ve said elsewhere that, in a crisis, your primary job is to minimize the screwups as you try to figure your way out. This was a perfect example.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark Schannon,

    You should get on Aetius’s thread. I touches on things you might like to address. Besides, I’d be interested to hear your views regarding Aetius’s article.

    Remember, we still have an issue or two to settle. Consequently, I need more material (from you) to better understand where you’re coming from and the position you’re espousing.

    Roger

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/heloise Heloise

    Good article Clav. I too was wondering about the cash part even before I read the article. It sounds like an after thought. I read your explain and you still don’t explain it. Okay.

    But all one has to do is to visit a VA hospital. There is a real one in Chicago. And the physical structure is old and decrepit. I think I tried to get a job there once and that’s why I went in there. Didn’t work there nor get hired.

    Don’t know any Vets either and never heard them complain. Glad someone is bringing up the obvious not enough has been done for them. What about the crazies coming back from Iraq? We have to worry about the PTSD from all these people returning. America cares not for those who get damanged in war after they send them off.

    Heloise

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Clavos,

    To the best of my knowledge, VA has always been underfunded. And given the size of the budget and the stimulus package, the amount of money to be saved is indeed a pittance.

    Do you know, Clavos, what would the reaction from the private insurance companies be if this proposal went through?

    On the face of it, at least, it appears analogous to a similar move when those on Social Security and Medicare would be/are (?) required to pay for some of the benefits if either their total income is above certain level and if they have other medical insurance besides

  • Clavos

    The thing is, Roger, that all honorably discharged veterans are entitled to treatment at a VA facility.

    Among those veterans, however, are two kinds of patients: those who come for treatment for conditions that occurred as a result of their service, and those who seek treatment of conditions that have no connection to their service.

    The latter group already are means tested and pay copays (as Baritone explained he does, above), either themselves (as in B-tone’s case) or, if they have private insurance, the VA bills their insurance carrier, just as any other medical provider would.

    The group who are suffering conditions incurred as a result of their service, and/or are deemed disabled as a result of their service, are NOT required to pay, not even copays. It was the insurance carriers of this group that Obama was proposing to start billing for services.

    Not only would this have been a revocation of the VA’s primary and most important mission, it would have inevitably resulted in those veterans having to pay out of pocket expenses in the form of copayments and/or increased premiums on their insurance.

    In addition, as Cindy mentioned above, many (if not most) of this group are seriously wounded and/or sick; their treatment is complex, long lasting (often for life) and very expensive, greatly increasing the likelihood of such veterans “topping out” on their insurance, and winding up uninsured altogether, which also would hurt their families.

    It was a very bad idea, which would not have resulted in much savings (relatively speaking), but definitely would have cost the president (and by extension, the Democratic party) a lot of good will, not only with the millions of veterans and their families, but with the voters in general.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Clavos,

    Fantastic article. Terrible thing we are discussing here. I just can’t believe Obama would actually do this.

    Forget about bailing out corporations. What about the 8 billion for the monorail between cali and las vegas? Or any of the other pork projects or handouts in the several trillion in spending over these first two months? Obama clearly has his priorities totally wrong.

    One good note however, Obama did do his NCAA brackets, so we are covered in that regard.

  • Clavos

    Roger,

    …those on Social Security and Medicare would be/are (?) required to pay for some of the benefits if either their total income is above certain level and if they have other medical insurance besides…

    Actually, Medicare only pays 80% for ALL patients, regardless of income, and doesn’t pay for medications (with a few very specialized exceptions), so everyone on Medicare has to have so-called “Medigap” insurance to cover the 20%, as well as insurance for medications.

  • Clavos

    Thanks OA.

    I’m sure it wasn’t Bam’s own idea, but I do fault him for not stepping on it AND the insect who proposed it; at the very least, his own political self-interest alarms should have gone off when they presented the idea to him.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Clavos,

    As the left has reminded us many times over the last eight years, he is the president and it all falls under his responsibility. See Katrina for more details.

    But don’t worry, Obama will always do what is expidient, so now that everyone is in a huff, Obama will likely give another prime time teleprompter speech talking about his new proposal to help all the vetrans. He will sound pious doing it, and the average joe will walk away thinking, wow, I am really glad we got that Obama guy in office.

    Given Obama’s proclivity to do what is perceived as expedient, as opposed to having a principled center, I wonder if foreign countries are scheming ways to control Obama via drummed up outrage over this or that policy. It really wouldn’t be hard. A little propaganda, some foreign owned press outlets, and you could effectively guide the president’s actions via expediency. It happens all the time in the business world, it’s known as managing up.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clav,

    RE your #40: “Have you signed up for MyHealtheVet yet?”

    Yes. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, though.

    B

  • Cindy

    Jobless rate hits 11.2% for Vets. USA Today. 3-20-09.

    Having a military record is apparently seen almost in the same way as having a felony conviction one Vet said. Employers apparently think Vets must have some kind of mental aberration from having been in a war.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Pretty soon it will be 20 percent and rising for the country at large.

  • leighann

    The VA hospitals that I know about are terrible! (Biloxi)My dad is a disabled vet (with service related injuries) who is also mentally ill. He is in liver failure and the VA has him seeing a nurse practitioner. Not a liver specialist, not even a doctor. When my dad’s amonia levels go up, his eyes get very matted. When he asked her about this she told him that she did not deal with eyes, he would have to go somewhere else. He can’t walk, take his pills independently, or even hold a spoon to feed himself but each time he has been just about ready to get on a transplant list, they tell him that he failed the drug test for THC. We finally got tired of it and took him the next day for another test from a civilan doctor and he passed. When VA ran it again, he passed but they would not even listen to his wife before that when she told him that there was no way he has been smoking marijuana. I go to a support group on line for families of liver patients and I have heard a few of the people from VA say that they have dealt with the same thing. If you complian it just makes it worse, and if you have no other insurance then you do not have any other choice but to take the crap tht they give.
    Thankfully, my father does and now sees a civilian doctor, a real doctor at that.

    So much for socialized medicine, where my family is concerned anyway.