A bipartisan group of lawmakers and prominent veterans groups are outraged over an Obama administration proposal — currently under consideration — to allow third-party insurance companies to pay for combat-related injuries. The proposal would “save the Department of Veterans Affairs $530 million a year,” but critics argue that asking private insurers to pick up the tab for combat injuries is not just immoral but also economically disastrous. The private insurers could jack up premiums, families could lose coverage if a veteran meets the maximum benefit amount for their insurance, and insurers could deny claims if a veteran is insured through the individual market, deny coverage etc…
The episode highlights the inadequacy of the nation’s patchwork health system and the dangers of skyrocketing health care costs in the private insurance market. Outraged Republicans are also suggesting that access to affordable health care is more important than balancing budgets! (Bodes well for the health care debate, right?)
But the party of ‘country first’ now finds itself in a peculiar political position. While loudly and proudly caricaturing the administration’s health care proposal as government-run socialism, Republicans are tripping over themselves to keep veterans in the system.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who sits on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, demonstrates this hypocrisy:
On Veterans Leaving Government-Run Health Care: “If this bill reaches the Senate, I will strongly oppose it. The VA was created for the purpose of caring for those who have fought and sacrificed for our country, and the care for injuries sustained while serving is our responsibility.”
On The Consequences of Government-Run Health Care: “In short, government-sponsored health care will do for the health care economy what government-sponsored mortgages did to the housing market. The unintended consequences of government-sponsored health care would be catastrophic.”
On The Consequences of Obama’s Proposal: “If one side wins, one can expect the federal government to take over more of the responsibility of health care. To actually place the government in between a patient and their doctor. I’m not sure that’s what the majority of Americans want. I think they want a private sector that works for them as individuals, them as employers.
As Uwe Reinhardt asked during yesterday’s health hearing before the House Committee On Commerce and Energy, “Why do you give veterans socialized medicine when it’s so bad?” It’s a question Republicans are now struggling to answer.
The Hill is reporting that “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.”