VETERANS CARE: House Passes Bill Expanding VA Benefits
Veterans have something to celebrate in the final days of the 1999 congressional session. The House approved by voice vote yesterday a bill to expand the Veterans Affairs Department's provision of long-term health care and to extend benefits to more veterans. VA Committee Chairman Bob Stump (R-AZ) called the bill "the most comprehensive legislation to be enacted on behalf of American veterans in decades." If signed by the president, the bill would:
- Lift a six-month limit on adult day health care and provide long-term care, including nursing home care, to any veteran with "70% or greater service-connected disability";
- Provide VA-funded emergency care for low-income veterans;
- Authorize benefits for Purple Heart recipients;
- Provide $65 million to programs for homeless veterans over the next four years;
- Allow the VA to change the system of co-payment for prescription drugs, increasing rates based on veterans' ability to pay, thus generating revenue.