Obama Praises Senate Passage Of Legislation to Provide VA $1.5 Billion for Veterans' Health Care
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today praised the Senate's decision to add $1.5 billion in additional funding to fill the shortfall in the VA's health care budget for 2005. The money was included as part of the Fiscal Year 2006 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill.
"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. "To ensure that they receive that care, we must adequately fund the VA and never nickel-and-dime those who risked their lives to protect ours. That is why I am pleased that the Senate chose to add $1.5 billion in emergency funds to fill the shortfall in the veterans' health care budget."
In February, Obama warned that the VA budget didn't provide enough funding for our veterans.
"The President's proposed budget for the Department of Veterans' Affairs is woefully inadequate," Obama said in February. "It provides 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. This is unacceptable."
The 2006 VA budget, when adjusted for inflation, actually provides less money for veterans' services than it did a year ago. It cuts $351 million in funding for veterans' nursing homes, and eliminates more than $100 million in state grants. Under this budget, prescription drug co-pays will more than double, and 2.2 million veterans earning as little as $26,000 a year will be charged a $250 enrollment fee just to enter into the health care program they were promised.
"I don't think anyone wants to look a returning soldier in the eye who fought and bled for our country and say 'Sorry, but when it comes to getting health care, you're on your own,'" said Obama.
Senator Obama is a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.