IMMEDIATE RELEASE





Press Release

October 19, 2004

No. 04-045


Contact:
Mokie Porter

(301) 585-4000 Ext. 146
(301) 996-0901

 
Harvard Study Confirms Woeful State of Uninsured Veterans
 


(Washington, D.C.) – The ground-breaking report released yesterday by the Harvard/Cambridge Hospital Study Group on Veterans’ Health Insurance confirms what the leadership of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) has long advocated:  The current enrollment system which effectively bars Priority 8 veterans from access to the VA health care system is having a very real, very debilitating effect on the health of many of the veterans the system exists to serve. 

“It is a sad state of affairs when more than one-quarter of our nation’s almost two million uninsured veterans failed to get any health care at all in the past year because they couldn’t afford it,” said Thomas H. Corey, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA).  “It is appalling that so many of our fellow veterans, even those with disabling chronic illnesses and conditions, have not had the resources to see a doctor or receive basic preventive care, and that they have to be reduced to poverty before the are ‘eligible’ to get care from the VA.   

“The reality is that the VA’s medical operations are severely under-funded” Corey said.  “The VA needs, at minimum, $30 billion in appropriated dollars for the current fiscal year just to tread water in caring for its caseload and to reopen the system to Priority 8’s who are statutorily eligible to receive VA health care.  

“Those who wish to impose restrictions on who is eligible to receive health care from the VA, should push legislation to legally shut out veterans. That way the American people, through their elected representatives, can openly decide if some “categories” of veterans are not deserving of proper medical care, and exactly which sick veterans to cast aside.  

“The roots of this crisis go back at least seven years, but the crisis is now. It is intolerable that there is not enough funding to properly sustain the nation’s veterans’ health care system, even in the midst of war.  This time,” Corey added, “the government did not even wait until the war is over to forget our veterans. 

“We call on Congress to hold hearings on the status of uninsured veterans the goal of making the VA health care system truly responsive to their needs by providing enough funds and reopening the system to all veterans currently excluded by the VA.”

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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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