VA Denies Health Coverage for Higher-Income Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2005, denied enrollment for health coverage for 263,257 higher-income veterans without service-related injuries or illnesses as part of an effort to reduce costs, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. VA suspended enrollment for such veterans in January 2003.
At the time, VA estimated that the suspension would affect about 522,000 veterans through FY 2005 for a savings of $780 million.
Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.), a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said that additional veterans might not have attempted to enroll because they were aware they did not qualify for health coverage under the suspension.
According to some lawmakers and veterans groups, Congress should allocate more funds for the VA health care system.
However, others maintain that VA must establish priorities for which veterans receive health coverage.
"Our first priority is to care for veterans who were hurt or disabled in service and who need our help. We are doing that," Jeff Phillips, communications director for House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), said.
VA spokesperson Matt Burns added that the department provides high-quality health care to veterans, "particularly our newly returning veterans, those with low incomes and those who have sustained service-related injuries or illnesses" (Gamboa, AP/Los Angeles Times, 1/24).
APM's "Marketplace" on Tuesday in a "Youth Radio" feature reported on the increased number of some young U.S. military service members who marry individuals whom they might not know to obtain additional pay and benefits, such as family health insurance.
The segment includes comments from Lt. Kyle Raines, chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs; Kevin Walters, an army specialist; and a woman who married the younger brother of her roommate -- whom she did not know -- to obtain health insurance (Simon-Ortiz, "Marketplace," APM, 1/24). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.