Stabenow: Senate Budget Places Priority on Veterans Health Care Needs
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today announced Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution, which for the second year in a row, will fully-fund veterans' health care in order to make sure that our country keeps its promises to those who have served our country and will include two Stabenow amendments that put veterans first. One amendment prevents the Bush Administration from doubling the cost of prescription drugs copayments and implementing enrollment fees for our veterans. The other helps lay the groundwork to make the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration's health record systems compatible, which means lower costs and improved care for those transitioning from active duty to veterans' service.
"Michigan is home to over 760,000 men and women who have worn the uniform in defense of our country," said Stabenow. "Our veterans have always been there for us and our country needs to be there for them. Providing the necessary funding for our Veterans has been a long, hard fight, and the Senate's Budget is a major step towards our goal. No one who has put their life on the line for their country should ever be forced to pay more for health care or fall through the cracks because there is a lack of resources."
Senator Stabenow's amendment, included in the budget, rejects the Administration's proposed increase in health care costs for veterans. Currently, many veterans have an $8 per prescription copay for each 30 day prescription. As of October 1, 2008, the President's Budget would increase the copay to $15. Veterans, who make more than $28,429 dollars but less than 80% of the community's median income, would be subject to copayment increases as well as enrollment fees. Stabenow's amendment will help ensure that the brave men and women that have put their lives on the line in service to our country are not strapped with additional health care costs.
Senator Stabenow's Health IT amendment, included in the budget, will help pave the way to fund the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration's effort to make their electronic health records compatible. The Wounded Warrior Act, which passed last year, requires that these systems be compatible. This will help ensure that soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan do not fall through the cracks.
As a member of the Budget Committee, Senator Stabenow has been a stalwart advocate for the needs of our nation's veterans. Last year, veterans from across the country looked to Democrats to make their health care needs a priority, and Stabenow and the Democratic Congress delivered. While the current administration has consistently underfunded the Veterans Administration, Stabenow has fought at every turn for full funding of veterans health care and to eliminate the year-to-year uncertainties in funding the needs of our nation's heroes.