Several veterans groups "are lashing out" at the Obama administration over a policy proposal they say would "dramatically alter" how the Department of Veterans Affairs handles health insurance claims for veterans, The Hill reports. Under the policy, which is included in President Obama’s fiscal year 2010 budget proposal, VA would bill health insurers for treatment of injuries and conditions sustained as a result of veterans’ military service. Currently, VA covers those costs and bills health insurers only for treatment for conditions unrelated to veterans’ military service.

Last month, 11 veterans groups, including Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion, wrote a letter to Obama, saying, "There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran’s personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide," adding, "While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable." They added that the policy would discourage employers from hiring disabled veterans, increase insurance premiums for disabled veterans, and renege on the government’s "sacred obligation" to care for the injuries veterans sustained during service.

 "If I had to point a finger at someone, it would be the Office of Management and Budget," says Joe Violante, DAV’s national legislative director. He says the change would increase revenue by about $500 million from insurance collection on military service-related injuries. "We hope that the administration will back away from this idea. If our government is not responsible for paying for the wounds of war, what else are they going to do?"

According to OMB spokesman Tom Gavin, although concerns about policy changes in coverage are understandable, no official proposal is on the table. "The details of the VA budget are being worked out right now and the details won’t be available until April," he said. "The administration is committed to providing the VA with substantial resources to provide for our veterans" (Tiron, The Hill, 3/9).

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[Source: Medical News Today]