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Veterans May Face Health Care Cuts in 2008

Discussion in 'US Military Services' started by Dan, Feb 27, 2006.


    Feb 27, 9:56 PM EST

    Veterans May Face Health Care Cuts in 2008

    Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half - if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.

    After an increase for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing by leaps and bounds, White House budget documents assume a cutback in 2008 and further cuts thereafter.

    In fact, the proposed cuts are so draconian that it seems to some that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better. More realistic numbers, however, would raise doubts as to whether Bush can keep his promise to wrestle the deficit under control by the time he leaves office.

    "Either the administration is proposing gutting VA health care over the next five years or it is not serious about its own budget," said Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, top Democrat on the panel overseeing the VA's budget. "If the proposals aren't serious, then that would undermine the administration's argument that they intend to reduce the deficit in half over the next several years."

    In fact, the White House doesn't seem serious about the numbers. It says the long-term budget numbers don't represent actual administration policies. Similar cuts assumed in earlier budgets have been reversed.

    "Instead, the president's subsequent budgets have increased funding for all of these programs," said White House budget office spokesman Scott Milburn. "The country can meet the goal of cutting the deficit in half and still invest in key programs for vulnerable Americans, and claims to the contrary aren't supported by the facts of recent budget history."

    The veterans' medical care cuts would come even though more and more people are trying to enter the system and as the number of people wounded in Iraq keeps rising. Even though Iraq war veterans represent only about 2 percent of the Veterans Administration's patient caseload, many are returning from battle with grievous injuries requiring costly care.

    The White House budget office, however, assumes that the veterans' medical services budget - up 69 percent since Bush took office and which would rise by 11 percent next year under Bush's budget - can absorb cuts for three years in a row after that.

    The cuts are outlined in a 673-page computer printout that has not been officially released by the White House budget office. However, it found its way into the hands of the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning Washington think tank.

    The administration insists it makes spending policies one year at a time and that the long-term veterans' budget figures are therefore subject to change.

    "We don't make multiyear discretionary funding requests," said Veterans Administration spokesman Scott Hogenson, who declined to speculate on whether long-term cuts were realistic. "We look at our needs and assess our needs on a year-to-year basis."

    The rapidly growing budget for veterans' medical services, funded for the current year at $24.5 billion, would leap to $27.7 billion in 2007 under Bush's budget. But the medical services budget faces a 3 percent cut in 2008 and would hover below $27 billion for the next four years, even as increasing numbers of veterans from the Iraq war claim their benefits and the costs of providing care to elderly World War II and Korean War veterans continue to rise.

    Those cuts would prove traumatic to the already troubled VA medical system, and would force staff cuts, delay investment in new medical equipment and deny care to hundreds of thousands of veterans.

    "The only way you can do what they want to do in terms of actually cutting the budget is to throw a lot of veterans out who are already in the system and/or redefine who is a veteran," said Rick Weidman, director of government relations for the Vietnam Veterans of America.

    Even with recent funding increases, cost-cutting moves have locked more than a quarter million veterans out of the system. Those excluded have no illnesses or injuries attributable to their military service and earn more than the average wage in their community.

    In Bush's proposal to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term, he's assuming spending on domestic agency operating budgets can be frozen over the next few years.

    "Each year the budget numbers go up," said Jeff Schrade, spokesman for Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Larry Craig, R-Idaho. "Speculation beyond 2007's budget is, at this point, just speculation."

    But without the cuts, Bush's plan to halve the deficit would be far more difficult to achieve. For example, just freezing the budget for veterans' medical services below $27 billion understates the deficit for 2009 by perhaps $5 billion.
  2. eisman

    eisman ARGH! CLM

    Jul 28, 2002
    Moving Target
    Factual reporting rarely uses the words "could", "would", or "if". Somehow it does not suprise me that the main "source" is a document that "found its way into the hands of the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning Washington think tank".

    Republican Quote: "...the president's subsequent budgets have increased funding for all of these programs ... and claims to the contrary aren't supported by the facts of recent budget history."

    Yes, the VA has problems. Yes, Iraq casualties have compounded them. But the majority of the costs are due to a system that accepts everyone who served (willingly or not), not just those retired, for ANY needed medical treatment. This includes lung cancer from somking, alcholism, broken bones, failure to plan for a retirement fund, and other non-militarily induced problems belonging to three (plus) generations of service men and women (and their dependants).

    I personally do not believe that is what the VA was intended to provide, and know that the costs were not an issue with many of those now seeking treatment until it was their need that forced them to apply for it.

    Remember, Congress funds. Nobody else. And Congress has not been a Republican stronghold for those generations.

  3. PatrolMom


    Feb 12, 2002
    Las Vegas
    The VA budget is being cut for prostetic devices. Good going. We now have an entire generation of newly amputated service men and women that need legs and arms.

    If you are peeed off about this, write to your Congressmen. This is an outrage.

    BTW, a Korean War veteran, former POW gave me this information on base the other day. He had lunch the day before with the head of the VA in Nevada. Good God...this is just terrible.
  4. Funny thing about a "cut" in Washingtonspeak. If a committee says the budget for a certain thing should go up 20% and the administration only budgets a 10% increase, it becomes a budget cut of 10%, even though spending went up 10% over the previous budget.

    I'm not saying that is what has happened in this instance, but given the sources in this MSM report, I wouldn't be surprised.
  5. fabricator

    fabricator Got Biodiesel?

    Aug 28, 2003
    Grand Haven, MI
    When you cut taxes during war time somebody has to pay somewhere, I really find it bizarre that we hear so much talk about everybody pitching in during this time of war, then we hear about big tax cuts and incentives for big oil and benefit cuts for the VA, yeah, good idea you worthless fracking bastid cut vet benefits, stupid, worthless, lying, son of of a beatch.
  6. Big Bird

    Big Bird NRA Life Member

    Aug 7, 2003
    Louisville KY
    Its election year pap...same thing was "reported" two years ago about the same time the reports surfaced about bringing back the draft... You are being manipulated. Amputees are not crawling around with a cup on the street corner looking for money to pay for a prosthesis. Its an AP article...consider the source and wake up.
  7. fabricator

    fabricator Got Biodiesel?

    Aug 28, 2003
    Grand Haven, MI
    Funny how it's always somebody else who is a asleep, especially the people who call this worthless, lying, incompetent, bungling, administration into question.
  8. ProfMoriarty


    Mar 28, 2004
    It's exactly what's happening in this instance:

    "The rapidly growing budget for veterans' medical services, funded for the current year at $24.5 billion, would leap to $27.7 billion in 2007 under Bush's budget. But the medical services budget faces a 3 percent cut in 2008 and would hover below $27 billion for the next four years."

    ~$27B - $24.5B = ~$2.5B increase, minimum.

    Now, saying that this incresase is inadequate is another matter.

    But no way is it a cut.
  9. Jim in MI

    Jim in MI

    Feb 16, 2004
    West Michigan
    I'm a vet

    I'm a doctor

    I also say don't believe everything you read or hear on the street, as you should know darn well that a "cut" in Washington is nothing of the sort.

    The budget this year is 24.5 billion for vets medical services

    They are reporting a budget of what, 26.9 Bil? for 4 years, how is this a "cut"

    Don't blame the POTUS, dem or repub, for Congress' budgets.

    Also, from another standpoint, aren't the WWII vets dying (of old age) in droves, thereby decreasing the financial pressures on the VA system?

    Don't even get me started about people being medically retired, thereby qualifying for prosthetics at active duty hospitals, and lumping these people into bogus statistics about "how vets won't get care" Yes they freaking will get care, but at active duty hospitals, not VA ones, therby nullifying the bogus statistics you just read.

    I know a guy who was medically retired because he caught shrapnel, which was removed, and now he has a scar. So, he is an E3 for life, with retirement pay and benefits, because he has a scar. If the military decided to take care of this guy for life, why should I think that the military won't take care of an amputee for life?
  10. GraveroberA1


    Apr 14, 2005
    Arizona, USA
    Because my dad now has to pay for the FREE medical care for life he was promised when he enlisted. Dose he pay less than I do for health care? Yes. But it's still not free like he was promised and was for...almost his first ten years of retirement (he put in 21+).
  11. Big Bird

    Big Bird NRA Life Member

    Aug 7, 2003
    Louisville KY
    I'm not trying to pick a fight with you. But your dad was never promised free health care for the rest of his life. Military health benefits have always been subject to the availability of facilities and staff. This has always been the case. When your dad enlisted he was covered by CHAMPUS for treatment outside the military healthcare system...more recently service members are covered by tri-care. I served in the Army from 1983 to 1993 and healthcare provided through civilian facilities were only fully covered when there were no military facilities within a reasonable distance and/or they did not/could not provide the treatment required. Otherwise CHAMPUS only covered a percentage of the treatment.
  12. Ogre77497


    Jan 11, 2006
    Houston, Texas
    I'm retired from the Army. 20 years and a day.

    I WAS promised free medical for life, but it was never put in writing. Vietnam was still going, and the recruiters were saying anything they could to put folks in boots.

    Now I'm using USFHP (United States Family Health Plan (or Program, I forget which). It's costing me $460 a year for the wife and I. Then there are co-pays. You're restricted to doctors in the program, but it's not too bad.

    Just heard from the people at NAUS ( that there's a serious proposal out there to jack the fees up to $1200 a year over the course of the next three years, and then adjust for inflation thereafter. I'll betcha it isn't INFLATION minus 1 percent like our COLA retirement pay adjustments either.

    If you want to help, you can go to the NAUS site and read about it, and use their automated system to send email to the legislaters out there, in an effort to avert these changes .. to retiree "free medical for life".
  13. stengun


    Nov 20, 2004
    Bugtussell, AR

    What an idiot. How could BB "know" what someone else was promised.

    I usually don't like to call people idiots on the 'Net but Geeze! some of the statements they make are beyound belief! So, either they think that everybody else is an idiot or they are an idiot themself, and I might not be the brightest cryon in the box, but I'm not an idiot so it kinda narrows things down a bit.

  14. BilltheCat

    BilltheCat Quieter Cat Millennium Member

    Apr 4, 1999
    Sanford, Florida
    VA promises. The sentence simply means nothing and has always meant nothing.

    When I was diagnosed with PTSD after getting back to CONUS the military doctors said the "VA will take care of you" and they didnt show me diabled for my bad left leg (military injury), Blood pressure problems, (same) Bad eye strain, and harmed hearing from the flight line. Ever tried using a brick radio next to a -60 or running up F-4?

    Well the VA was so wonderful to me. 20% rating. They said my PTSD was brought one by me before my service ? what?

    They rated my hearing at 0%. I can barely walk now with a cane and I am rated 10% for it.

    I have received little care for it but all the pain drugs I could carry. You know what 20 plus years of narcotics does to a fellow?

    If anyone wants to serve his country great, but know in advance the VA will not keep the countries promise to you.

    You are all Bonus Soldiers.