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Lowman S. Henry

Lowman S. Henry

Chairman & CEO
Lincoln Institute
of Public Opinion Research

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Town Hall Commentary

Outrageous

Obama plans to deny veterans health care


by Lowman S. Henry
 

It is part of the anti-war mantra: We oppose the war, but support the troops. Now, yet another liberal lie bites the dust as President Barack Obama plans to end the nation's commitment to provide medical care to veterans of military service. His goal is to "save" $540 million in government costs by forcing private insurance companies to pay for service-related injuries and disabilities.

President Obama promised change, and apparently part of that change is to end the federal government's historic — and rightful — role of providing medical care for those who have suffered physical or psychological injury in the course of defending our country.

The preamble to the Constitution of the United States, a one sentence declaration of the responsibilities of the federal government, clearly outlines providing "for the common defense" as a core function of the national union which was established in order to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." And throughout our history, presidential administrations of no party and every party have sought to uphold that sacred trust.

That is until now. In a shameful and outrageous effort to evade our moral obligation to care for our nation's veterans President Obama is proposing to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for medical care provided to veterans with service-connected injuries or disabilities. If the plan is approved, it would move some $540 million in health care costs from the federal government to the private sector.

In testimony before the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, David K. Rehbein, national commander of the American Legion, said the plan would be "inconsistent with the mandate that the VA treats service-connected injuries and disabilities given that the United States government sends members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies."

Moral issues aside, there are many pragmatic problems with such an approach. First, assuming members of the military will be able to obtain private insurance coverage under such conditions, there are such factors as deductibles, co-payments and coverage limits that would add to the individual veteran's personal costs. For veterans with policies that cover their families, benefits could be exhausted by the veteran leaving family members without health care.

And then there is the financial impact on insurance companies. The Obama plan would add $540 million in expenses for health insurers, who along with everyone else are already suffering financially due to the economic recession. Forcing private insurers to pick up the government's tab for veterans' health care will trigger an increase in premiums, specifically on veterans but also generally on all policy holders. It would be, in effect, a hidden tax hike. That, or private insurance companies will go insolvent and join the line for a government bail-out.

Meeting our obligation to care for veterans is a growing concern. Over 1 million service members already have retired after having served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. With the conflict in Afghanistan likely to go on for years, more will be entering the VA's health care system. The system is already stressed and underfunded, and the President's plan — if enacted — will compromise it further.

As might be expected the plan has run into serious opposition from the nation's veteran's groups. Rehbein emerged from a White House meeting this week "clearly angered" according to web reports. "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate to 'care for him who shall have borne the battle'," said Rehbein in a statement after the meeting. He said the President is looking to save money, but "refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."

The defense of the nation is the clear and highest purpose of a federal government. As President Obama essentially transforms America into a socialist nation he is simultaneously abandoning a core governmental responsibility. Imagine the chilling effect on morale it must be having on those serving in harm's way to have their commander-in-chief plotting to take away their medical care should they be wounded.

President Obama and his gang of "not ready for prime time players" have already done an exceptional job of devastating our economy and driving the federal government into untenable debt, now he seems intent upon trashing the military as well. It is the latest, and most egregious, move by a government that is rapidly becoming the most disastrous in American history.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.