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Letter to President Barack Obama


Location: Washington, DC

Letter to President Barack Obama

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley has cosigned a letter expressing her support for maintaining existing policy when it comes to covering the cost of care for veterans who are injured or disabled in the line of duty.

"Caring for our veterans is not an option, it's our duty, and I will work with my colleagues to fully fund the VA budget without looking to those who served to make additional sacrifices. There is no question we are in a time of tight budgets, but that means we will just have to work a little harder to make sure we are providing the funding needed to deliver top quality care to veterans who were disabled or injured while on activity duty. This would not be the first time that ideas that have surfaced in budget talks were immediately shelved as being unworkable and that is what I believe should happen with this issue," said Berkley.

The letter (below) is in response to concerns raised about the idea of billing private insurance for care provided to veterans for service-connected injuries and disabilities. Currently, the VA bears the full cost of such treatment and Berkley does not support any change to this requirement.

March 17, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We write in response to a deeply troubling policy proposal that has been discussed in conjunction with the release of your Administration's Budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For weeks now, leaders of Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) have alluded to developing proposals that would require Veterans' private insurance to be billed for care provided in treatment of service-connected injuries and disabilities. Currently, the VA bears the full cost of such treatment.

Though private insurance can currently be billed for treatment of non-service connected conditions, expanding this policy to service-related care ignores the mission of the VA: "To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan." We cannot compromise on the promise we have made to those who serve our Nation. To this end, we respectfully oppose any proposal to bill Veterans' personal insurers for care or treatment of disability or injuries incurred as a result of honorable military service to the United States.

We appreciate that you have made caring for Veterans, their families, and survivors, one of its top priorities. This is evidenced by your budget, under which VA discretionary resources for the first time ever exceed the amount recommended by the Independent Budget - a set of Budget and program recommendations assembled by the leading VSOs. That is no small feat.

However, in the desire to cut costs we cannot lay the burden on those Veterans who have already given so much. Thank you for your consideration of our concerns regarding these issues.

Shelley Berkley

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