MAKE THAT ‘FINAL DECISION’ A ‘NO’…. I can only assume that this was one of many ideas that was just thrown out during a brainstorming session, and will not be seriously considered by the administration. Because if officials have really put this on the table, they should take it off the table as quickly as possible.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance, but was told by lawmakers that it would be “dead on arrival” if sent to Congress.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray used that blunt terminology, telling Shinseki that the idea would not be acceptable and would be rejected if formally proposed. She made the remarks during a Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing about the 2010 budget.

No official proposal to create such a program has been announced publicly, but veterans groups wrote a pre-emptive letter last week to President Obama opposing the idea after hearing the plan was under consideration. The groups also noticed an increase in “third-party collections” estimated in the 2010 budget proposal — something they said could only be achieved if the VA started billing for service-related injuries.

Shinseki told senators, “A final decision hasn’t been made yet.” Here’s hoping it doesn’t take too long for officials to realize how obvious the answer is. I’m not even sure why it would be under consideration, and Shinseki didn’t offer any light on the subject.

Brian Beutler took a step back and added a very good point:

Imagine that the administration’s greater health care plan contained something — a subsidy perhaps — for retired veterans who buy private insurance, such that they’ll pay no more out of pocket for treatment under the new system than they would have in the past. That’s at least a theoretical possibility, but even if it were, the plan would be dead on arrival. Why? Because veterans know what congressmen know what we all know, that private health insurance, particularly on the individual market, usually sucks. Indeed, it’s typically worse than veterans need and deserve.

But there are plenty of honorable people in America who aren’t veterans (or government employees) and yet many of the very same people who loudly oppose this ambiguous plan as an abuse of our veterans would be perfectly happy to see all other Americans forced into such a system. Because America’s not ready for single payer universal health care, unless it’s for veterans.

Good point. Veterans receive some of the best health care available in America through the VA. And guess what? It’s a “socialized,” government-run bureaucracy.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.