Bush’s Veteran Health Care Reform Plan Faces Resistance
One day after President Bush submitted a proposal to Congress that would revamp the veterans' health and disability systems based on recommendations from a presidential commission, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) said he sees "no basis" for combining the president's draft legislation with other bills already under consideration in Congress, CQ Today reports.
The House and Senate have passed legislation (HR 1538) on wounded veterans that now is in conference, and the defense authorization bill (HR 1585) also includes provisions for wounded servicemembers.
Akaka said, "Whatever legislation is finally submitted by the White House will not have my support as a replacement for the Wounded Warrior legislation that is now pending in the defense authorization conference."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the defense authorization bill's conferees "will examine the provisions contained in the White House proposal to see if they can be incorporated into a conference report."
The Department of Veterans Affairs in a statement said, "We look forward to working with Congress to promptly pass the initiatives announced by the president and will continue to work with members on the legislation currently in conference" (Yoest, CQ Today, 10/17).
Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and University of Miami President and former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala -- co-chairs of the presidential commission -- on Wednesday testified before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. They presented the committee with what Dole called "a fairly limited list" of six initiatives drawn from their recommendations. Shalala said they offered a small, manageable list of proposals as a means to apply pressure on Congress to act quickly (CongressDaily, 10/18).
WAMU's "The Diane Rehm Show" on Thursday is scheduled to include a discussion with Washington Post reporters Anne Hull and Dana Priest about health care for veterans ("The Diane Rehm Show" Web site, 10/18). A broadcast schedule and additional details about the segment are available on the program's Web site. Audio of the segment will be available online about one hour after the broadcast.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.