Thank you for contacting me about a proposal to bill veterans’ private insurance companies for the treatment of combat related injuries. It is good to hear from you.
As you know, during the formation of the fiscal year 2010 budget, President Obama considered including a proposal to bill the private insurance companies of veterans for service-connected illnesses and injuries. Under current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs covers those costs, and bills veterans’ private insurance only for treatments unrelated to a veterans’ military service.
As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Committee, I spoke out strongly against private insurance billing for service-connected medical conditions. I worked to make sure that the administration understood the problems with this proposal. When the VA Secretary appeared before the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I stated that private insurance billing for service-connected conditions would be “dead on arrival” in Congress. After all, veterans with service-connected disabilities have paid enough of a price. When our veterans are injured while serving this country, we should take care of them completely. After listening to the concerns of veterans and consulting with veterans organizations and Congress, the Obama administration dropped the proposal.
I am pleased that President Obama decided to abandon this proposal. It shows his willingness to listen to veterans, and to change course when their interests are at stake. And let me be clear on the larger issue here – the President’s overall budget represents a historic investment in health care for veterans. It will increase VA funding by $25 billion over the next five years, improving the VA’s ability to care for the influx of new veterans as well as those who served in past years. I look forward to working with President Obama to fully fund the VA and to repay our veterans for their honorable service.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me on this important issue. Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind as legislation concerning veterans health care arises in the 111th Congress. If you would like to know more about my work in the U.S. Senate, please feel free to sign up for my weekly updates at http://murray.senate.gov/updates/. Keep in touch.
I hope all is well in Vancouver.