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Stabenow, Senate Colleagues Stop President's Plans for Veterans' Drug Co-Pay Hikes and Enrollment Fees, Veterans' Homes Funding Cuts

Location: Washington, DC

Stabenow, Senate Colleagues Stop President's Plans for Veterans' Drug Co-Pay Hikes and Enrollment Fees, Veterans' Homes Funding Cuts

Senator said she led effort to defeat proposals "with great pride"

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) this week led a successful effort in a U.S. Senate budget resolution hearing to defeat a Bush administration proposal that would have established an annual health plan enrollment fee and doubled the cost of prescription drug co-payments for middle income veterans. The proposal defines "middle income" as anyone making more than $25,000 a year.

By means of her amendment to the fiscal year 2006 federal budget resolution being drafted this week, Stabenow also helped defeat the administration's proposal to eliminate funding for 80 percent of the veterans in Michigan's state veterans' homes.

"The budget request submitted by the administration failed to meet our commitment to the veterans of Michigan and our nation," Stabenow said. "The president's budget would have doubled prescription drug co-pays for many veterans from $7 to $15, imposed on them a new annual $250 enrollment fee, and cut funding for veterans' nursing homes."

"These proposals broke faith with our veterans and failed to honor the commitments our nation has made to those in uniform and those who have served our country," she said. "It was with great pride that I was able to lead the effort to defeat these proposals in the Senate Budget Committee.

Stabenow had garnered the signatures of 32 senators on a letter to the Senate Budget Committee in February, opposing the enrollment fees and the co-pay increases, and noting that the slim increases in the veterans budget was based on the revenue from these proposals. "It is unacceptable to place the burden of needed increases for veterans' health care on the shoulders of America's veterans themselves," Stabenow and the other senators wrote.

Following her victories in the budget mark-up, Stabenow reiterated her commitment to ensure that veterans receive the health care they need.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that the VA health care system receives full funding - without relying on increased out-of-pocket fees to veterans," Stabenow said. "We owe this to the men and women who have served our nation in the past - and to the service members who will be returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stabenow continues to strongly favor the "Independent Budget," developed by a coalition of the nation's major veterans' organizations. Following that budget guideline, Stabenow and other members of Congress last year added $1.2 billion in veterans' health care funding to the president's proposal.

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