Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pelosi: Administration Will Not Force Veterans to Use Private Insurance

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pelosi: Administration Will Not Force Veterans to Use Private Insurance to Pay for Treatment of Combat-Related Injuries

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this afternoon that the Obama Administration would not proceed with a proposal that could have forced veterans to use their private insurance to pay for the treatment of combat-related injuries.

Pelosi made the announcement at a meeting she and House Democrats hosted this afternoon in the Capitol with leaders of veterans’ service organizations, who greeted the news with a standing ovation. Below are the Speaker’s remarks.

“Good afternoon and thank you all very much for coming. Thank you for your leadership, for your service to our country, for your generosity of spirit to America’s heroes, for helping us make better policy to honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, both when they are in active duty and when they come home. As you know, in the military, the expression is: ‘On the battlefield, we leave no soldier behind.’ And when they come home, working with you, we will leave no veteran behind.

“Particular to today’s meeting and a subject of some conversation, 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. [Applause.]

“I want to thank all of you, our friends came to me from the American Legion and many of you expressed your views on this subject. You had a great champion, of course, in Chet Edwards, who is Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on veterans; the Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, Bob Filner; the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Mr. Skelton, who is here; and the man who writes the budget, and he was never going to put this in the budget, I know, John Spratt.

“I want to thank them and you for making this important change. But it wasn’t just the Chairmen inside the Congress, it was our Members as well. Mr. Brad Ellsworth is here, John Hall, Tim Walz, Jim Marshall, Glenn Nye, Vic Snyder; they and so many other Members, Gene Taylor. They — and many members of the Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees and Mr. Edwards, Appropriations Committee on Veterans Issues — worked hard to make this clear so that this issue is now behind us.

“We have important work to do. Because of you, we have been able to have the biggest increases in veterans’ benefits in the history of the VA. We did that a couple years ago as soon as we took the majority. And last year, we even did one better and now, working together under the leadership of President Obama, in the budget we have even more dramatic increases to meet the needs of America’s heroes.

“So thank you all for the role that you are playing in this, and we look forward to this discussion today. Thank you all very much for joining us.”

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