Senate Approves Budget For Veterans Programs
"The Senate on Tuesday adopted the latest in a continuing series of major budget increases to provide medical care for veterans. The move came as the Senate passed, by a rare 100-0 vote, a $134 billion spending bill for veterans programs and military construction projects" the Associated Press reports.
"The unanimous vote reflected the unique political standing of the veterans budget ... The pending measure awards a 9 percent increase over last year's budget for veterans health care. ... One factor in rising costs is that people are surviving battlefield wounds that would have proven fatal in the past, including losses of multiple limbs and traumatic brain injuries. At the same time, repeated deployments and combat stress have led to increasing numbers of veterans seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder" (Taylor, 11/17).
Meanwhile, The Army Times reports: "A House-passed national health care reform bill will not reduce health care choices or increase costs for veterans, the military, and military retirees and their families, House Democrats said, accusing opponents of the Affordable Health Care for America Act of spreading 'myths' to try to kill the measure." The bill permits veterans and service members "to keep their current coverage and to buy additional coverage if that is their choice, according to a statement prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the many House panels that had a part in preparing the bill. ... The statement comes after two prominent House Republicans, the ranking minority party members of the House armed services and veterans' affairs committees, claimed the Affordable Health Care for America Act would restrict options and possibly reduce coverage for veterans, retirees and their families" (Maze, 11/17).