American Legion Criticizes Bush Administration Decision To Cut VA Funding
The head of the American Legion, an organization that represents about three million wartime U.S. veterans, yesterday said President Bush had "let down" those who served in the Armed Forces by canceling a $275 million expenditure for the Department of Veterans Affairs to reduce backlogs at VA medical centers, the AP/Nando Times reports. More than 300,000 veterans new to the VA system are on waiting lists for initial exams, which are needed to qualify for prescription drug benefits, Richard Santos, the American Legion's national commander, said. The spending originally was included in a fiscal year 2002 supplemental spending bill (HR 4775) that Bush signed on Aug. 2. However, Bush on Tuesday said he would not release the bill's "all-or-nothing" $5.1 billion emergency spending package, which included the VA funds, saying that Congress had "lumped in millions of dollars in programs that [he] did not request and that were unrelated to the bill's homeland security mission." Santos said, "If [the backlog is] not an emergency, then nothing is." White House spokesperson Claire Buchan, however, said the $275 million would have provided the department with less than five days of operating funds, which would not have resolved the backlog. She also noted that Bush has requested a $1.9 billion increase for veterans' medical care for fiscal year 2003 (AP/Nando Times, 8/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.