IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

August 15, 2003

No. 03-30

Contact:
Mokie Porter

(301) 585-4000 Ext.146

 

VVA Decries Effort to Whitewash Effects
Of $1.8 Billion Hit to Veterans Health Care


(Washington, D.C.) – Thomas H. Corey, President of Vietnam Veterans of America, has called the whitewash of the decision by the House of Representatives to cut $1.8 billion from the budget for veterans’ health care “a slap in the face.”   

In a letter to Rep. Deborah Pryce, chair of the House Republican Conference, Corey wrote:  “I read with a sense of dismay your report on all the good things the House has done on behalf of veterans.  Much of it stretches the truth. 

“Yes, veterans’ health care has received funding increases over the last five years,” Corey wrote.  “However, these increases have not kept pace with the increased demand at the VA medical centers, not to mention medical inflation.  Because the budget for the VA’s medical operations was flat-lined for three successive fiscal years in the mid-1990s, the amount being appropriated is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of the users of the VA health-care system.   

“Yes, the VA-HUD appropriations package does include a reasonable increase in spending on VA medical operations,” Corey wrote. “But it cut $1.8 billion in appropriations embraced and endorsed by appropriate House committees.  Furthermore, the $27.2 billion in ‘total budgetary resources for the Veterans Health Administration’ that you cite includes anticipated revenues from third-party payments.  What is needed to fund the health-care system is a minimum of $28.5 billion in appropriated dollars.  To truly and properly fund this system, the appropriation ought to be in the range of $36 billion to achieve the ‘level of care’ mandated by the 1996 law.” 

While agreeing with the assertion that “the budget and appropriations process is ongoing and never-ending,” Corey called it “an affront to reality to state that ‘what Congress is unable to provide one year is placed on high priority for the following year.’ ”   

It is the position of VVA, Corey concluded, “if you really want to improve veterans health care, you must debate the merits of obligatory or mandatory funding.  We need to move beyond the annual funding appeals and concentrate our efforts on improving the delivery of health-care services by the VA.  We look forward to the day we and the other veterans service organizations can work with members of the House and Senate on achieving mutually held objectives in this area.”

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Attachment:  “White Paper:  The Position of Vietnam Veterans of America on Health Care Funding for All Veterans”

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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