Monday, March 9, 2009
Changing the Rules: Let us know what you think
Last week, the veterans' community received word of a proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for health care related to service-connected conditions. AMVETS vehemently opposes this idea. We understand that the costs of health care keep skyrocketing, but that does not preclude the VA from fulfilling its obligations to our veterans.
Service-connected conditions are quite different from the kinds of health care conditions many Americans cope with. Service-connected conditions are injuries and maladies that the VA has acknowledged have a direct link to our time in the military; a time when we each forfeit certain rights and priviledges to defend our fellow countrymen and our way of life. In return for agreeing to go wherever we are asked to go, and do whatever we are asked to do, our government has made a promise to take care of us, should something happen in the line of duty. Now the government wants to pass this burden onto our private insurance companies.
I understand if the VA wants to treat normal patient triage as any private hospital would by billing third-party insurers for routine visits, but it is the VA's obligation to ensure that service-connected conditions are treated at no cost to the veteran.
Proponents of third-party billing may believe that this will simply help the VA save some much-needed cash in a turbulent economic time, since many veterans already enjoy adequate third-party coverage. However, this could create dire unintended consequences when insurance companies start to drop veterans from their plans. Under the current scenario, private insurance companies can look the other way when a veteran needs monthly counseling for PTSD or repairs to a prosthesis. But once the bills start rolling in for Blue Cross or United, somebody is going to have to reassess the situation. Veterans will become a greater liability.
The new Administration has proposed a much-needed increase in funding for the VA in FY2010. Unfortunately, third-party billing for service-connected conditions may be a part of their equation. This would be a tremendous disservice to our veterans, and I hope that the White House and Congress will not seriously consider this move. AMVETS is waiting anxiously to see the President's full budget proposal in early April. In the meantime, let us know what you think about the third-party billing proposal by posting your comments below.