Is Obama playing politics with Veterans Affairs?

The White House should have a Public Relations bureau that’s entire purpose is to release the news about why he is doing what he is doing. Not just someone to deal with the press but right on position papers every day about projects they are ready to talk about and to explain.

From the OP’s link:

This part I don’t really get. If I, a civilian, get injured, it wasn’t my private insurance company that sent me into harm’s way either. Nonetheless, it’s still the insurance company’s responsibility to pay for my treatment. Because that’s why I (and my employer) pay them premiums, right?

Is this about Sinaijon’s two-policies thing? Why have two separate policies for vets at all? Isn’t it a real PITA trying to decide whether some medical problem is service-related or not?

What I thought was especially interesting was the list of reasons why the American Legion doesn’t want the current reimbursement plan to change:

Let’s see, so the private insurance reimbursement wouldn’t be as good a plan because:

  1. A service-related injury could use up all available benefits for the veteran and his/her family too;

  2. The private insurers are more likely to require deductibles;

  3. The premiums might be high if the vet’s employer doesn’t have the clout to negotiate a lower price;

  4. The costs of treatment would make vets less desirable as employees.

In other words, for the individual, the private sector insurance coverage would be more expensive, less reliable, and potentially damaging to their job prospects.

What was that again about the superior efficiency of private markets over government?

And how will it be spun that pushing this plan makes Obama a “socialist”?

Most of those arguments are bunk, anyway. If the insurer gets billed for a service related injury, and passes that on to the DVA, and gets fully reimbursed for it, it should have no effect on your policy maximums,deductible, or premium because the insurer isn’t actually paying for it. The only cost to the insurer would be the paper trail. And if Obama gets his way with electronic records, the cost of that is basically zilch.

I don’t think this is correct. According to the WaPo, the plan does not propose that the VA reimburse private insurers. Rather, the private insurer would bear the cost of the veteran’s medical care, up to whatever policy limits may exist.

Thus it appears that the adverse consequences cited by the Legion sound plausible, at least as to charging veterans for the deductibles and the possible exhaustion of the family’s coverage. Whether this would affect hiring seems more attenuated.

The WaPo article makes it sound as though the care provider already only deals with one insurer – the VA – and the VA then pursues rembursement from the private insurer for non-service injuries.

On its face, the proposal would push more health-care costs away from the government and onto the private insurance industry. Whether that’s good policy or not is certainly open to debate, but it’s hard for me to see how this is a step toward universal health care. It looks more like simply a cost-saving measure for the government.

Bush used to cut out the middle man and just create fake news stories that were played without attribution.

Why do this with vetrans and not Medicare? Medicare has the same problems of billing the patient’s insurance and medicare both.

You mean like flying a $65,000/hr limosine to Ohio to announce the trillion dollar stimulus package that nobody read was a success because 25 people will keep a job for a year?

I don’t think you and DanBlather mean the same thing by “fake news story” here. You seem to be referring to something that Obama actually did that generated news coverage (however little it may have been genuinely newsworthy), and which was actually reported by journalists employed by news outlets.

What Dan was referring to was the so-called “VNRs”, or Video News Releases, pieces of footage that were produced and paid for by the Bush Administration itself, and designed to blend in with genuine television news segments. VNRs are also produced by private corporations as a sort of adformation (advertainment?) product, and since media outlet budgets have been very tight for some years, they’ve come to rely heavily on VNRs from companies and government agencies:

That’s the “without attribution” part. The worrisome thing about the VNRs is not so much that they’re running what are essentially ads for free, but that a lot of time and money is being spent to ensure that viewers won’t know what’s an ad and what’s not.

As an aside, I wanted to mention that the “nobody read it” meme seems pretty fucking stupid to me.

They edited and revised it. You don’t have to read a 1200 page book again if the editor strikes the chapter about how the giant spider and turtle were actually friends once. Ya dig?

Veterans groups are meeting with the White House again on Thursday. I’m willing to guess that that’ll be the point where the plan gets dropped.


So you’ve answered the question of the ages: can Congress make a bill so big, nobody can [del]lift[/del] read it?

That’s pretty lame saying the bills too big, therefore they shouldn’t be expected to read it. Everything in that bill could be summarized in data form for easy dissemination. Good Lord, I’ve had to break down customer data that was millions of lines deep for analysis. I can’t imagine handing in a project to my boss with the understanding that it wasn’t based on proper review. This was a 900 BILLION DOLLAR bill. If there was ever a reason to understand what was in it that is it.

We’re seeing the results of this already with the legislation that allowed the AIG bonuses. They just now noticed it because NOBODY READ THE BILL.

Not at all. I 100% support the right of any media outlet to lie or mislead (though I would of course prefer that they didn’t). I was just saying that elected officials should not allow misleading media to unduly influence them.

Magiver, the AIG bonuses weren’t part of the bailout bill, so I don’t see your argument that they went unnoticed because the bill went unread. The bonuses went unnoticed by Congress because members of Congress were not reading the employment contracts of every single company they were bailing out. Should they have?

I agree that that’s the intent, but the question comes at whose expense. The insurers aren’t going to just eat $540 million, they’re gonna pass it on. Best-case scenario, everyone’s premiums go up a bit. Worst-case scenario, being in the military is identified as a risk factor and military families have to pay more – probably lots more – in premiums.

You are not understanding what I meant. The bill was introduced on Jan 29. They were making revisions. The final revisions were small changes. If someone read the bill before the final changes and read the final changes they’ve read the bill.

What makes you think the congress persons didn’t have accurate summations of the bill? I know the republicans read it, because they were bitching and mewling about everything they could paint as wasteful. “A train from Disneyland to Vegas” for example.

Well in the absence of National Health Care (which I support), shouldn’t groups with a higher risk factor pay more?

Yes, I’m enjoying myself.

Oh. Now I see what you did there… I guess I got whooshed the first time.

Well played, sir.

On the way home, the radio program I was listening to (Roe Conn, AM-890 Chicago for those keeping score) had the Commander of the American Legion on. He said that he & 11 other representatives from veterans organizations met with Rahm Emmanuel today and the end result was that the plan is off the table.

The only person who admitted to reading the first draft was Senator Voinovich. Nobody admitted to reading the final. Obviously the bonus clause was overlooked.

I don’t understand how Congress can debate a 1200 page $1 trillion bill without producing a queriable database for all to see. It’s child’s play.