Veterans Seek More Funds for Health Care in House Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Resolution
Veterans' groups in the last week have increased lobbying efforts to persuade House members to increase funding for veterans' health care in their fiscal year 2005 budget resolution, which they are debating this week, CongressDaily reports. Currently, the House budget resolution calls for spending $1.2 billion more on veterans' health care than the Bush administration's proposal, and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs has put forth a recommendation to increase that amount to $2.5 billion for a total of $30.3 billion, which the Senate approved in its FY 2005 budget resolution. House Republicans say they "have been generous with veterans' spending," noting that Congress has increased funding for veterans' benefits since Republicans assumed the majority in the House in 1995, CongressDaily reports. Republican aides said they are confident that House leadership will gather the required 218 votes needed for passage of the budget resolution, with a vote on final passage expected Thursday (Cohn, CongressDaily, 3/23).
The FY 2005 "budget crunch" is forcing lawmakers to make "some difficult choices" on health care spending, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Recent reports of growth in entitlement spending -- specifically Social Security and Medicare -- combined with growing tension over four decades of growth in health care spending, is pressuring lawmakers to reduce discretionary spending. NIH, whose funding has increased 107% since 1998, is "a tempting target for cutbacks," as illustrated by the resurgence of criticism over some NIH studies that some lawmakers say are not the best use of federal funds. Already, the Bush administration has requested an increase in NIH spending in FY 2005 of only 2.7% over the previous year, not a "soft landing" after annual increases of 15%, according to Joanne Carney, director of the Center for Science, Technology and Congress for the American Association of the Advancement of Science (Chaddock, Christian Science Monitor, 3/23).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.