having read health care policy nearly daily, I was surprised when co-blogger Firebird informed me that President Obama wants military members to pay for their own health care.
Nor could Barry – wasn’t that long ago he wanted military members to pay for their own health care – INCLUDING THOSE WOUNDED IN COMBAT – and his logic? The Commander-in-Chief’s LOGIC???? THEY VOLUNTEERED! THEY KNEW THERE WERE RISKS!
Fortunately, the quotes provided by Firebird did ring a bell. Through the magic of Google, we find out that this comes from a fake chain mail that was circulated years ago, and appears to be circulating again. In a campaign year no less. First, the quotes from the fabricated chain mail.
The President admitted that he was puzzled by the magnitude of the opposition to his proposal. “Look, it’s an all volunteer force,” Obama complained. “Nobody made these guys go to war. They had to have known and accepted the risks. Now they whine about bearing the costs of their choice? It doesn’t compute..”
“I thought these were people who were proud to sacrifice for their
country,” Obama continued. “I wasn’t asking for blood (oh but you did), just money. With the country facing the worst financial crisis in its history, I’d have thought that the patriotic thing to do (Let’s talk patriotic for a moment here…kids getting their ass shot at, of which there has been a loss there has been shoty supplies of appropriate protection – Parents are paying for it out of their own pocket, and you Sir, want to turn your back…Mr. Commander in Chief, is it??) would be to try to help reduce the nation’s deficit. I guess I underestimated the selfishness of some of my fellow Americans.”
Now, the rest of the story. From Factcheck.org.
To start, the e-mail’s anonymous author offers no evidence to substantiate the disparaging remarks about veterans that he or she attributes to President Obama. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told us that “these quotes are fabricated.”
Our own research backs that up. We searched news databases and turned up no news organization that has ever quoted Obama this way. We conclude that these quotes are simply made-up, and perhaps intended as satire.
Update, Sept. 25: Long after we posted this article, we discovered that the quotes were indeed intended as satire. They are the product of conservative humorist John Semmens, who posted them originally March 21, 2009. They appeared in Semmens’ column, “Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News,” at the online publication The Arizona Conservative.
We might have figured that out sooner had we recalled that Semmens was the source of an earlier fake Obama quote that was widely circulated during the 2008 campaign. That time, Semmens poked fun at Obama’s reluctance to wear an American flag pin on his lapel, and spun a tale in which Obama supposedly said the “war-like message” of the National Anthem should be replaced with something like “I Want to Teach the World to Sing.” That was the subject of an earlier Ask FactCheck article posted April 22, 2008. Then as now, the bogus quotes became part of a chain e-mail that many passed off as true.
The next part is what I remember.
As reported by the Washington Post and others including Fox News, the Obama administration met with several veterans groups on March 16 and floated the idea of saving taxpayers $540 million by billing veterans’ private insurance companies for treatment of conditions connected to their military service, including war injuries. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently bills these insurance companies for treatment of non-service-related conditions.
But as administration officials made clear at the time, there was no proposal to force veterans to pay for treatment for their own injuries, or to make them buy private insurance if they did not already have it. In fact, administration officials told FactCheck.org at the time that their proposal would have no financial impact on veterans at all.
“The idea … would result in no additional out-of-pocket costs to veterans even when their private insurance plans require deductibles before benefits are paid,” one official told us in an exchange of e-mails.
Nevertheless, veterans organizations protested. An American Legion news release carried the headline: “The American Legion Strongly Opposed to President’s Plan to Charge Wounded Heroes for Treatment.” It complained that the idea could under some circumstances result in added costs to veterans despite administration officials’ assurances. For example, the Legion said, a veteran’s treatment might cost enough to reach maximum insurance coverage limits, leaving the rest of the veteran’s family without health care benefits.
Two days after its meeting with veterans groups, the White House released a formal announcement saying that “the President has instructed that [the idea's] consideration be dropped.”
While it was an idea that could have saved the government money, and probably at no expense to the veterans, the Obama administration did the right thing. They met with and listened to veterans groups. After listening to them, they agreed to drop this proposal as, in some circumstances it could affect the family of the veteran.
An administration that makes a proposal, then meets with those who will be affected sounds about right to me. One that drops its proposal when it finds it might cause unintended harm sounds even better.