March 18, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), responding to recent media reports, expressed his strong opposition to the Obama Administration’s consideration of a plan to make veterans pay for the treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance.
“Any consideration of making veterans use private insurance to pay for treatment of combat and service-related injuries is unconscionable,” Senator Inhofe said. “It is a slap in the face of our veterans by going back on a longstanding commitment by this country to pay for health care costs that result from military service.
“I am deeply disturbed by recent media reports that President Obama is considering such a plan, especially given his stance on the topic in the past. On August 21, 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama said, ‘Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism. Because America's commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end.’ The President’s White House website currently states, ‘As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Barack Obama fought to end benefit disparities, bring homeless veterans in off the street, strengthen mental health care, add billions of dollars in additional Department of Veterans Affairs funding, and reform a system that often places barriers between veterans and the benefits they have earned. President Obama and Vice President Biden will ensure we honor the sacred trust to care for our nation’s veterans.’ It also says that President Obama and Vice President Biden are committed to creating a 21st Century Department of Veterans' Affairs that provides the care and benefits that our nation's veterans deserve.
“Are these just more promises to the nation President Obama is going to turn his back on? Not only will our military not be funded adequately to ensure we are able to sustain, maintain, and recapitalize our forces, but now the President is considering taking away their benefits. It is simply unacceptable.
“I will oppose any proposed shift of responsibilities from the Department of Veterans Affairs to private insurers to pay for care for service-connected injuries of our wounded veterans. This country has an obligation to our veterans who served our country with honor, and I will always to work to ensure that they receive the care they rightfully deserve. Our military's greatest asset is its people, and we cannot afford to lose qualified career service members because of poor benefits.
“Just as our veterans have selflessly done for us, we must be steadfast in our commitment to improving the quality of care and services to America’s veterans and the families that support them. As a veteran myself and a member of the Armed Services Committee, I will fight to ensure this Congress and this country meets the commitments made to those who proudly wore and wear the uniform of our United States military.”