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Rehberg Slams Shortfall in Veterans Funding

Location: Washington, DC

Rehberg Slams Shortfall in Veterans Funding
June 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC -At an oversight hearing on Veterans Affairs, Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today blasted the Veterans Administration for a healthcare shortfall of more than $1 billion.

"This is a huge gap created by mismanagement and compounded by the agency's failure to come clean to Congress," said Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs, which conducted the oversight hearing. "The agency screwed up and didn't tell us all that it needs to ensure quality care for our nation's veterans. We're going to have to bail them out and find funds to meet their shortfall."

Department of Veterans Affairs officials told the subcommittee that its healthcare system will end FY '05 with more than a $1 billion deficit - a shortfall that went unreported by the agency until now.

"Why are we the last to know?" Rehberg asked during questioning at today's oversight hearing. "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

"Do you have any confidence in your actuaries?" Rehberg asked, after learning the agency spends $4 million each year on actuaries that have provided outdated healthcare cost projections, leading to the shortfall.

"The question, of course, is what about next year's budget? Why didn't they tell us what they needed when they came before our panel earlier this year? " Rehberg said of legislation his panel approved last month to pay for Veterans healthcare - amounts included in the FY'06 Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which the House passed on May 25. "I will not stand by and watch our Veterans get less than the quality care they deserve. If more money is needed, we'll come up with it."

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