T ransgender A merican
V eterans A ssociation

By:  Paul L. Balaich for the Alamogordo Daily News


HONOR AMERICA'S COMMITMENT TO VETERANS

VETERANS HAVE EARNED THE RIGHT TO TIMELY ACCESS TO VA MEDICAL CARE AS A CONTINUING COST OF NATIONAL DEFENSE.  DISCRETIONARY FUNDING CREATES AN INHERENT CONFLICT BETWEEN OPEN ENROLLMENT AND CONSTRAINED RESOURCES.  NEITHER CONGRESS NOR THE ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN WILLING TO RESOLVE THIS ISSUE.

MYTH; MANDATORY FUNDING WOULD CREATE A NEW ENTITLEMNT:

REALITY:  Mandatory health care funding would only change the way funds are provided for VA health care.  It would neither create an individual entitlement to health care, nor change VA's current mission, eligibility requirements nor medical benefits package.

MYTH:  Mandatory funding would result in run-away costs:

REALITY:  Mandatory health care would ensure that VA only receives sufficient resources to care for veterans who use the VA health care system.  It would allow for an appropriate annual adjustment for medical inflation so that VA can maintain adequate staff levels and keep pace with increased costs for medical equipment, supplies and pharmaceuticals.  The price of veterans' health care is a continuing cost of our national defense.

MYTH:  Congress would lose oversight over the VA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IF VA SHIFTED FROM DISCRETIONARY TO MANDATORY FUNDING.

REALITY:  As it does with other federal mandatory programs, Congress would retain oversight of VA programs and health care services.  VA would still be accountable for how it spends its money and how well it runs its health care programs.

WHY IS THE VA HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN CRISIS?

The current discretionary funding method for veteran's health care is broken.  The needs of our nation's sick and disabled veterans are not being adequately met.  Continued funding shortfalls, combined with rising costs for care and increased demand for medical services, have resulted in unprecedented waiting times nationwide for routine and specialized medical services.  VA's enrolled patient population surged from 2.9 million in 1996 to 6.8 million in 2003, a 134 percent increase.  However, appropriated funding for VA medical care only increased 44 percent from $16.6 billion in 1996 to $23.9 billion in 2003.  VA has received on average a 5 percent increase in appropriations over the last eight years.  However, VA's Under Secretary for Health has testified that VA requires, at a minimum, approximately a 14 percent increased annually just to maintain current services.  In addition, VA projects enrollment will exceed 7 million in 2004.

UNDER THE CURRENT DISCRETIONARY FUNDING METHOD:

  a.. VA health care funding has failed to keep pace with medical inflation and the changing needs of the veteran's population.
  b.. VA has been forced to ration care by denying services to eligible veterans and curtailing need medical treatment.
  c.. VA has had to forgo the modernization of many of its facilities and the purchase of necessary state-of-the-art medical equipment.
  d.. Veterans are unfairly subjected to the annual funding competition for limited discretionary resources.

THE PARTERSHIP FOR VETERANS HEALTH CARE BUDGET REFORM REPRESENTING AMERICA'S 26 MILLION VETERANS:

THE AMERICAN LEGION - AMVETS (American Veterans) - BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION - DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS - JEWISH WAR VETERANS OF THE USA - MILITARY ORDER OF THE PURPLE HEART OF THE U. S. A., INC., - PARALYZED VETERANS OF AMERICA - VETERANS OF FOREIGN WAR OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA, fully indorses the bills in Congress to amend Title 38, United States Code, to provide for a guaranteed adequate level of funding for veterans health care and other purposes.

The U. S. House of Representative Bill is - H. R. 2318 and the U. S. Senate Bill is S-50.  Congresspersons in New Mexico who have co-sponsored the legislation are:  Representative Tom Udall (D-3rd District).  Senator Bingaman (D-NM), Senator Domenici (R-NM) have not co-sponsored S-50 and Representatives Steve Pearce (R-2nd District) and Heather Wilson (R-1st District) have not co-sponsored H. R. 2318.

The Forum urges all veterans and their families to contact Senator's Bingaman and Domenici; Representatives Pearce and Wilson, and ask them to co-sponsor Senate Bill S-50 and House Bill H. R. 2318.  They can all be contacted through their internet web sites, district offices in New Mexico and by telephone toll free at:  1-877-762-8762.  Contact them now, it's your health care at stake.

GOD BLESS OUR NATION, THE VETERNS WHO HAVE DEFENDED HER AND THE MEN AND WOMEN IN OUR ARMED FORCES.  GET INVOLVED, DON'T QUIT - FIGHT BACK!  2004 IS A PRESIDENTIAL AND CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION YEAR.  LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD - VOTE NOVEMBER 2, 2004.

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