TPMDC first reported last week on the Obama administration’s plans to consider charging veterans’ private health insurance for injuries suffered during their service. The proposed move ignited a firestorm on the right in recent days, with the Drudge Report picking up on a critical press release from the American Legion and sparking a letter of protest to the administration this morning from 61 House members.
The scandal abruptly cooled this afternoon, however, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told a gathering of veterans’ groups that the White House had agreed to kill the idea of charging third parties for service-related veterans’ health care. Pelosi said:
I’m pleased to announce that we have some good news. Over the past several days, President Obama has listened to the genuine concerns expressed by veterans’ leaders and veterans’ service organizations regarding the option of billing service connected to veterans’ insurance companies.
Based on the respect that President Obama has for our nation’s veterans and the principled concerns expressed by veterans’ leaders, the President has made the decision that the combat-wounded veterans should not be billed through their insurance policies for combat-related injuries.
And here’s the official word from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs:
The President has consistently stated that he is committed to working with veterans on the details of the 2010 VA Budget Proposal. The President demonstrated his deep commitment to veterans by proposing the largest increase in the VA budget in 30 years and calling VSO and MSO leaders into the White House for an unprecedented meeting to discuss various aspects of the budget proposal. In considering the third party billing issue, the administration was seeking to maximize the resources available for veterans; however, the President listened to concerns raised by the VSOs that this might, under certain circumstances, affect veterans and their families’ ability to access health care. Therefore, the President has instructed that its consideration be dropped. The President wants to continue a constructive partnership with the VSOs and MSOs and is grateful to those VSOs and MSOs who have worked in good faith with him on the budget proposal.