"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

September 26, 2006

Lump Sum Buyouts?

The republi-cons are trying their best to tear down each and every entitlement program that exists. The reason is simple, the government is going broke. They are spending way to much on the war on terra, giving tax-cuts to their cronies and simply, the basic mismanagement of the country. Now comes the latest assualt on disabled Veterans and their benefits from the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC). These folks are supposed to be working for the Veterans, instead they are assigned by congressional republi-cons to gut the VA system and save it money anyway it knows how. They are proposing lump sum buyouts for injured Vets. The most frustrating part is that the young uneducated kids coming back will look at this as a good deal. They want to start with those disabled Veterans who are in the 10%-30% Service Connected range.

President Bush often speaks of controlling spending on entitlement programs and lumps Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits under the “entitlement umbrella” by consistently using them in the same sentence. This campaign of disinformation is used to sell the concept that all three of these programs are some kind of welfare, are out of control and therefore should fall under a sharp budget knife. This ignores the reality that Medicare is an insurance program and veterans’ disability compensation is provided to those who have been wounded or injured while serving the country.

There are more questions than answers. Here are just a few of the potential problem areas –

• If the veteran's service-connected condition worsened, would he be able to file a claim or would the condition now not be compensable? Many veterans will initially receive a 10 per cent or 20 per cent disability rating and then see it jump to as high as 100 per cent as they age and their particular condition worsens.

• Would the VA continue to treat the veteran for the condition even though he wasn't getting compensation? Or, would the condition now be considered not to exist? The cost-savings to the government would be great and the cost to the veteran could be catastrophic.

• What about another condition that occurs that is secondary to the original service-connected condition? How would that fit in? An example would be a veteran who receives disability for a bad knee. As that knee gets worse with age, back problems can arise and that could constitute a secondary disability that could be compensated.

• Would the VA stop at the 10 per cent and 20 per cent disability ratings? Many feel that this would be just the beginning and that once the door is open, all disability ratings could be up for a lump-sum buyout.

• Would the buyouts be retroactive? Or, would only “new” veterans fall under the plan? The largest savings for the government would be gained by including veterans currently receiving disability.

• And, would the buyouts be mandatory or optional? The savings for the government would be greatest with a mandatory buyout plan. Could this be imposed on veterans?The biggest question of all is: How can you buy-out a disability? Veterans receive disability compensation because their ability to perform everyday tasks has been diminished by wounds or injuries sustained while on active-duty. The compensation paid by the VA is meant to make up for income lost due to the disabilities. A lump-sum payment is antithetical to the concept of on-going compensation for an on-going disability.

This doesn't count the fact that many disabled Veterans will not be employed for jobs because of their disability. If they were a liability in the Military, they will be a liability on the outside. Insurance companies for many employers will not cover that individual for previous existing injuries.

When layoffs come, who will be the first ones laid off the job? The healthy 25 year old or the 45 year old disabled Veteran who has missed some days of work for previous related injuries. I hate to sound redundant, how many healthcare agencies will provide insurance for sick, disabled Veterans? I can tell you...none, zero, zippo, nada! The VDBC does not have the Veterans best interest in mind! This is another big fuck you to the men and women who have fought and defended our country!!

Vote Democratic!!

Seven of Six

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