Matheson: Shortfall in Vets' Health Care was Avoidable
June 30, 2005
Washington DC-Congressman Jim Matheson said today that House passage of a $975 million emergency funding bill to plug a $1 billion gap in this year's veterans' health care budget is belated acknowledgement that veterans have been shortchanged.
"Why did it take so long for the administration to discover the problem? Veterans have been telling me for months about the long wait for appointments and difficulties in accessing care," said Matheson. "We've taken dozens of votes to address the problem, all of which have failed. We saw this coming, but couldn't get bipartisan cooperation to address it."
Matheson joined every House Democrat in signing a letter to President Bush this week, requesting supplemental funding of at least $1.3 billion to address the FY '05 budget shortfall. The letter asks for an amended FY '06 budget to account for the projected $2.7 billion shortfall next year. Last week, the VA disclosed the problem to Congress, saying it had failed to account for a surge in veterans' health care costs relating to the war in Iraq.
"Paying lip service to our soldiers isn't good enough. We can't just say we support them on the battlefield and then turn our backs on their needs when they come home," said Matheson.