By Roxana Tiron
Posted: 03/18/09 03:42 PM [ET]
The White House on Wednesday backed off a controversial plan that would have dramatically altered the way the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handles insurance claims, after veterans groups staged an all-out fight against such a proposal.
President Obama will not pursue a proposal that would have allowed the VA to charge private insurance companies for the treatment of veterans with service- and war-related injuries. The proposal raised the ire of prominent Democrats on the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs panels. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was the first to announce Wednesday afternoon that the president won’t pursue such a proposal.
For the second time in a week, representatives from prominent veterans organizations went to the White House on Wednesday to meet with the White House chief of staff on VA budget issues.
Jim King, the national executive director for American Veterans (AMVETS), said that the meeting with Rahm Emanuel lasted all of 15 minutes and that the health insurance issue was the only topic discussed. The representatives of the 11 veterans organizations told Emanuel they were not willing to back down, and the chief of staff told them that he thought the issue was “off the table,” but that he needed to talk to Obama.