OBAMA: "VA HEALTH CARE BUDGET CRISIS BREAKS PROMISE TO OUR NATION'S VETERANS"
VA ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $1 BILLION SHORTFALL IN HEALTH CARE BUDGET
WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans' Affairs today announced there is a more than $1 billion shortfall in funding for veterans' health care for 2005 despite assurances just months earlier by the Bush administration that the department did not need additional funds.
"When we make the decision to send our troops to war, we also make a promise to care for them when they come home," said Obama. "Today's announcement that the VA will need an additional $1 billion to pay for veterans' health care makes it clear that the Administration has broken this promise. We must immediately increase funding to ensure that our veterans get the care they have earned."
On March 26, 2005, Senator Obama voted to add an additional $2.85 billion to the VA health care budget, but the amendment was defeated. Senator Obama is a cosponsor of a bill introduced today that would provide an additional $2 billion in emergency funding for health care for America's veterans.
In a letter to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on April 5, 2005, VA Secretary Nicholson wrote, "I can assure you that VA does not need emergency supplemental funds in FY 2005 to continue to provide the timely, quality service that is always our goal."
In February, Obama called the VA budget "woefully inadequate" saying it provided "no relief to badly overstretched VA facilities across the state, and will force more than 40 thousand Illinois veterans to pay new fees for the health care they were promised."
Senator Obama is a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.