VA Secretary May Face Lawsuit for Alleged Failure To Publicize Health Benefits Information
Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) said Wednesday that he and Vietnam Veterans of America President Thomas Corey plan to file a suit Thursday against Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi for failing to publicize health care benefits information for veterans and their families, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. The agency said in a July 2002 memo that because of a tight budget, it would be "inappropriate" to market health care benefits at open houses, health fairs or veterans meetings, the AP/Sun reports. The memo also prohibited newspaper ads and mailings encouraging veterans to enroll. Strickland contended that a congressional mandate requires the department to perform outreach initiatives. He added that he had both written to and had a meeting with Principi on the subject and decided to file the suit as a last resort. Strickland said, "Rationing care or rationing services is just not acceptable." VA spokesperson Phil Budahn said that the memo was drafted when 300,000 veterans were on a waiting list for over six months to receive appointments, adding that wait times have decreased since then. Budahn said, "Certainly, it seems pretty reasonable that if a medical center doesn't have a waiting list, then it's a good time to start beating the drums and recruiting new patients." Budahn declined to comment on the pending lawsuit (Rulon, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/21).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.