Brief of the Week March 23

OBAMA BACK-DOWN ON VETERANS’ HEALTH CARE: In a very quick and unusual turnaround, the Obama administration last week seemed to embrace and then reject a controversial new policy proposal for dealing with health care for veterans with service-related injuries. The proposal, which would have for the first time required private insurers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs for treatment for veterans’ injuries and disabilities, surfaced Monday, March 16, at a meeting at the White House between heads of ten national veterans groups and the President — who, by all accounts, sounded favorable to the measure. David Rehbein, national commander of the American Legion, angrily told reporters upon emerging from the meeting that Obama told him “he is looking to generate $540 million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about it.” Rep. Steve Buyer (R.-Ind.), ranking Republican on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, vowed a fight against the health care measure and other prominent veterans weighed in against it, fearing it would end up reducing the quality of veterans’ care. “This is a perennial issue that the Office of Management and Budget raises, and it’s never been accepted,” former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi recalled to HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi. “It goes against everything the nation stands for in supporting its troops in the line of duty ,and it’s best we just not go there.” On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs appeared to back away from the proposal and said, “Let me not make the case for a decision that this administration hasn’t made yet.” The next day, a press release from the White House stated that “the President listened to concerns” of veterans on the issue of health care billing and “has instructed its consideration be dropped.”