CRAIG USES IDAHO EXAMPLE AT TODAY'S VA BUDGET HEARING
Military veterans who used to work for Idaho's Boise Cascade corporation became part of the debate today regarding a Bush Administration proposal for VA health care. The administration's record setting $86.7 billion plan for VA health care next year proposes charging a new health care premium to veterans who make more than $50,000 a year and who also have no current disabling conditions from their military service.
The plan calls for charging them $250 a year to access VA's health care system. Those making $75,000 or more would pay $500 a year and those making $100,000 or more would pay $750 a year.
"I know many Senators have come out - once again - against the President's premium proposals in this budget. I, on the other hand, am one that finds these premiums to be a very reasonable price for access to what is widely hailed as the best health care system in America. Politicians talk about affordable quality healthcare. Well, here it is." said Sen. Larry Craig, the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
"I often talk to those priority 8 veterans who, for purposes of this discussion, I'll call the old Boise-Cascaders.' These are veterans in their late 40s and 50s who once worked for Boise-Cascade. Unfortunately, the decline in the timber industry in the country shoved them off the roles of a large company's health insurance plan. They are now working for small businesses - construction, electrical work, local stores, etc . And they can't afford health insurance on their salary, and their employers don't provide it.
"The average cost of an individual health insurance premium is in this country today; $4,242. This is what a Boise-Cascader is faced with paying," Craig said. "I cannot think of anyone of them with a family income of at least $50,000, and without any other health insurance options, who wouldn't welcome the opportunity to enroll for VA health care at $21 per month. Perhaps some of our VA patients who have other health insurance will choose not to pay multiple premiums for multiple plans. And, if they do so, maybe I can one day look at Idaho's Boise-Cascaders and tell some of them, I have an affordable, quality health care option for you! But I can also look at Idaho's taxpayers and say we've provided this option without busting the Federal budget."