No Money for Vets
VFW Outraged at Inadequate Funding for Veterans Health Care

Bill Smith,
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Thursday 17 July 2003

WASHINGTON - Officials of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of the U.S. today expressed dismay at yesterday's approval of the VA-HUD Independent Agencies Subcommittee appropriations bill claiming the measure will seriously jeopardize veterans' health care.

The VA-HUD Subcommittee bill, which funds the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies, provides only a $1.4 billion increase over last year's funding level for veterans' health care. VFW officials point out that inflation alone will absorb that meager amount.

According to the VFW, the House and Senate passed budget resolution-the official congressional spending road map--provides a $3.4 billion increase as necessary for timely veterans health care. For the Congress not to appropriate this amount is a clear betrayal of the assurances made to America's veterans by the House Republican leadership.

The VA-HUD bill includes a proposal to increase co-payments for prescription drugs as well as collecting fees from some veterans for provided medical care. "Congress is asking some veterans to directly pay or offset the cost of their care. The VFW has always opposed using the dollars collected from veterans and their insurers for non-service connected care in place of appropriations. This marks the first time that such funds would directly take the place of appropriated dollars," said VFW Commander in Chief Ray Sisk.

"The House leadership has deceived us. For months the veterans community has been assured that fees would not be included as part of the VA funding package. Now we look at this appropriations bill and see that fees will be used to raise revenue. It is another instance where veterans-not the federal government by way of appropriating money-will be paying for their earned health care," Sisk said.

"We are outraged by this appropriation bill since VA projects that 1.1 million veterans will either be pushed out or not even bother trying to access VA health care," said Sisk. "Already, we have hundreds of thousands of veterans waiting six months or more for medical appointments. This bill will compound the problem."

: t r u t h o u t 2003

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