Senator Proposes Increase to Veterans Health Care Funding
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce an amendment to an emergency appropriations bill under consideration in the Senate to add $430 million for veterans health benefits, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports. According to Schumer, the $31 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system that President Bush has proposed in his fiscal year 2007 budget plan is inadequate, in part because of the number of veterans from the war in Iraq who will require care (Kelly, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4/27).
Schumer also said that he plans to introduce an amendment to block provisions in the Bush budget plan that would increase prescription drug copayments and annual enrollment fees for higher-income veterans who have no illnesses or injuries related to their military service. According to Schumer, the provisions could require such veterans with multiple prescriptions to pay almost $1,000 annually (AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/26).
Schumer said, "This is the time to bolster vets' health care -- not gut it. We must ensure the VA health care system receives the funding it needs so veterans get the quality health care they deserve." He added, "I think we owe these folks. One of the great problems we face today is getting people to enlist in the military. If they see the benefits being cut, that's not going to entice them to join" (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 4/27).