IMMEDIATE RELEASE





Press Release

February 4, 2004

No. 04-011


Contact:
Mokie Porter

(301) 585-4000
Ext. 146


 

President’s Proposed Budget for VA Health Care Inadequate and an Insult to Veterans


(Washington, D.C.) – "The budget proposed by the President for veterans health care for the next fiscal year is not only inadequate, it's an insult to veterans," said Thomas H. Corey, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). "It represents a clear-cut case of misplaced priorities. The same budget that calls for generous funding to wage war ignores the real needs of those who return from the war zone, and will impose undue hardship on them.

"We do not accept or comprehend the logic behind this budget," Corey said. "It depends on $340 million in unnamed 'management efficiencies' as well as an $800 million carryover from the FY 2004 budget. It assumes that Congress will impose a $250 a year user fee on some veterans already in the VA system. This is unrealistic and reckless," Corey added.

A rising chorus of disappointment and anger by the veterans' community and members of Congress has greeted the President's budget proposal, which calls for an increase for the VA's medical operations of a paltry $500 million, or 1.8 percent. The budget continues the ban on enrollment of Priority 8 veterans in FY 2005.

"This is dollar-driven, not a needs-driven, request," Corey said. "While claiming to be true to its core mission, it continues to close the system to veterans who just a few years ago were sought after and indeed welcomed with open arms by the VA. If the Administration has decided to deny millions of veterans access to VA health care by excluding them from VA health-care services by design of its budget requests, then the Administration should be honest about its intentions," Corey added.

"It's time, in this critical election year, for those in Congress who claim to be friends of veterans to demonstrate their allegiance not with words but with deeds by flat-out rejecting this budget proposal and moving to pass mandatory funding for health care for veterans, in addition to providing proper funding for FY 2005," Corey said.

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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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