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Veterans Urge President to Provide Adequate Budget for VA Medical Care

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    Veterans Urge President to Provide Adequate Budget for VA Medical Care

    Veterans Urge President to Provide Adequate Budget for VA Medical Care
    U.S.Newswire, 1/11/2002 14:42

    To: National Desk

    Contact: Richard Flanagan of AMVETS, 301-459-9600

    David Autry of Disabled American Veterans, 202-314-5219

    Bob Ensinger of Paralyzed Veterans of America,

    202-416-7681 or

    William Smith of Veterans of Foreign Wars, 202-543-2239

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In a letter this week to President Bush, the authors of The Independent Budget ( urged the Administration to allocate $24.5 billion to fully fund veterans' medical care in fiscal year 2003. The letter from AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States identifies a budgetary shortfall that seriously compromises the government's ability to provide adequate medical care to veterans.

    The most recent budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) fell $1.5 billion short of recommendations made by the Independent Budget's authors. The consequences of the budgetary shortfall are significant.

    ''We are extremely disappointed that the Administration and Congress have gone forward with a VA appropriation that will not even fund the pending mandated wage increase for VA's employees,'' the letter stated. ''We are especially concerned about reports of VA facilities having significant waiting lists for initial services once a veteran is enrolled in the system, as well as closed enrollment at some hospitals.'' The Independent Budget veterans service organizations cited reports of severely disabled veterans having to wait several months in some instances for health care services and specialized services such as home health care.

    The funding shortfall -- compounded by two percent ''efficiency'' cuts required of VA medical center directors this year -- portend sharp drops in care for veterans. The Independent Budget's authors noted that rationed health care and closed enrollment would result from the current level of VA appropriations. Late last year, the White House announced its intent to maintain open enrollment for all veterans eligible for care. The Administration has yet to come forward with the promised $400 million in additional funding needed to meet that demand for services. Veterans seeking health care in the VA system will confront fewer beds, consolidated services, and fewer full-time health-care employees. ''This pressure on the system will especially hurt sick and service-connected disabled veterans and affect their access to timely health care,'' the letter stated.

    The VA's need for adequate funding is amplified by the findings of a government report released this week. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, spending on health care in 2000 rose nearly 7 percent, fueled primarily by the costs of drugs and hospital care. Experts don't expect these costs to abate, and these cost increases have significant implications for both the veterans health care system as well as the private system that treats other Americans.

    The Independent Budget is a comprehensive policy document created annually by veterans for veterans. It serves as a guide to the Congress and the Administration as they develop the VA budget to meet the needs of our country's 25 million veterans.


    AMVETS -- a leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America's Armed Forces-provides, not only support for veterans and the active military in procuring receipt of their earned entitlements, but also community services that enhance the quality of life for this nation's citizens.

    The million-member Disabled American Veterans, a nonprofit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, is dedicated to one, single purpose: building better lives for our nation's disabled veterans and their families.

    The Paralyzed Veterans of America, a veterans service organization chartered by Congress, has for more than 50 years served the needs of its members, all of whom have catastrophic paralysis caused by spinal cord injury or disease.

    The VFW is a 1.9 million-member veterans service organization, now in its 102nd year, with a nationwide network of some 9,500 Posts and service officers working to build better communities and assist all veterans and their dependents with problems involving VA entitlements and pensions.



    Thanks for posting this, Max. Not sure why it got moved from the Veterans Forum, every veteran should be aware of and expect cuts in VA ability to care for us all.

    'This pressure on the system will especially hurt service-connected disabled veterans and affect their access to timely health care''
    This, especially, is a concern of mine. Not so much because I am service-connected, but because of the newly injured from the ongoing current wars. Let's hope the new Administration will see the need and move to fill it.
    get busy living or get busy dying