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Promises of Free Lifetime Health Care for Military Veterans Is a Contact
Description Persons who joined the military and served for at least 20 years were promised free, lifetime medical care. Congress later changed that, moving the veterans into Medicare, which is not free. The appeals court held that the government breached an implied contract. The veterans had the right to rely upon the express representations of the government when they joined.
Topic Contracts
Key Words Implied Contract; Veterans Benefits
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Plaintiffs were retired veterans over 65 years of age who each had more than 20 years of active military service. They contend that the government induced service with the promise that, upon retirement, they and their dependents would be entitled to free, lifetime health care. They contended that the government reneged on its promise and failed to provide the promised health care without cost. The district court rejected their claims, holding that the government's representations were not contractually binding. The veterans appealed.
Decision Reversed. The representations made by the military recruiters were at the direction of the heads of the military departments. They stated that the benefits included lifetime medical care. That created an implied-in-fact contract under which the veterans have a right to such benefits. An implied-in-fact contract is one founded upon a meeting of minds which, although not embodied in an express contract, is inferred, as a fact, from the conduct of the parties showing, in the light of the circumstances, their tacit understanding. The government breached the contract by requiring veterans who had reached age 65 to rely on health care benefits provided by Medicare. The statute that ordered the veterans moved over to Medicare could not strip veterans of their contractual rights.
Citation Schism v. U.S., - F.3d - (2001 WL 109422, Fed. Cir., 2001)

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