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President's Budget Mocks Obligation to Care for Veterans

Location: Washington, DC

President's Budget Mocks Obligation to Care for Veterans

Budget shortchanges healthcare needs and imposes expensive enrollment fee

WASHINGTON (February 8, 2005) Today Congressman Chandler announced his concern over the President's budget proposal for veterans. The proposal only increases funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs by a mere 0.5%, introduces new co-payments for prescription drugs, and would require some veterans to pay a new $250 enrollment fee just to use their own healthcare system.

"This budget is a slap in the face to all the men and women who risked their lives to serve this country," said Congressman Chandler. "One week the President pledges in his State of the Union address to do everything possible to help our troops recover, and the next he presents a budget that fails to address their needs. This is not the way we treat individuals who have put their lives on the line for this country."

Although the Veterans Administration estimates that it needs a 13-14% increase over the Fiscal Year 2005 funding level to accommodate the growing demand for veterans' health care services, the President's budget only provides a 1.7% increase. The budget calls for a 2% staff reduction in VA medial care, significant reductions in the VA nursing home program, and would force non-disabled higher income veterans to pay a $250 enrollment fee on top of escalated co-payments for prescription drugs.

"This is the third year in a row the President has attempted to essentially tax veterans for using their own health care system," said Chandler. "It is time we stop giving tax cuts to the millionaires and use that money to repay our veterans for their sacrifice."

The President's budget also fails to repeal the Disabled Veterans Tax which forces military retirees to give up one dollar of their pension for every dollar of disability pay they receive.

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