Leading the Charge to Protect Veterans
On March 15th, following the recommendations of the Independent Budget (a Budget prepared by veterans for veterans), I offered an amendment to the Iraq Supplemental bill which would have added $3.1 billion for veterans' health care. This amendment was blocked by the Republicans.
On June 30th, the Bush administration, several months after becoming aware of their shortfall, asked for $975 million more for fiscal year 2005 for the Veterans Administration (VA) health care. This amount turned out to be wrong. The Administration asked for an additional $300 million for the remainder of the year.
On July 14th, the VA again asked for more money, this time $1.7 billion more for next year's spending.
At the end of July, both the House and the Senate voted for $1.5 billion to close the 2005 gap. The rest of the shortfall for 2006 will likely be addressed in the 2006 VA spending bill.
The amount needed for 2005 and 2006 equals $3 billion, the figure I had attempted to provide nearly 4 months ago! This shortfall, which did not have to happen, is having a real effect on veterans. Long waiting times for health care appointments and a year's wait for dental appointments. Priority 8s (those with income as low as $25,000 a year) are not permitted to enroll. Furthermore, the VA is not able to adequately care for all the new veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as those who are getting older and need long term care.
The President, who constantly says "support our troops," is just not supporting our troops!
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