Congressman Doyle Condemns Impending Cuts in Veterans Benefits
Today, U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-14) condemned the negative impact that the budget adopted recently by Congress will have on thousands of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s veterans.
"The budget proposed by President Bush and recently approved by the Republican-controlled House and Senate will push 12,000 of our region’s veterans out of the VA health care system, deny enrollment to nearly 2,000 more, and increase out-of-pocket costs for thousands more," Congressman Doyle said earlier today at a press conference held at Soldiers and Sailors Hall. “ Our veterans deserve better than that.”
Congressman Doyle’s remarks were made as he released a study that was prepared at Congressman Doyle’s request by the staff of the House Government Reform Committee. The study used information from President Bush’s budget request and the Department of Veterans Affairs to estimate the impact of the Fiscal Year 2004 budget on the region’s veterans.
The study concluded that this budget will prevent an estimated 1,700 local veterans from enrolling in Pittsburgh area VA facilities. The study also concluded that many veterans in this area will pay an additional $350 or more each year for VA care - and that veterans who receive prescription drugs through the VA will pay hundreds of dollars more each year for their medicine. Finally, the study concluded that more than 12,000 local veterans who are enrolled at the region’s VA facilities will be forced to drop out of the VA health care system.
The budget proposed by President Bush and adopted by Congress in April will deny VA medical treatment to certain veterans - veterans who have incomes of $30,300 or more ($34,600 for a veteran with a spouse) and do not have service-connected disabilities. The budget plan approved by Congress also includes a new annual $250 enrollment fee and increased copayments for doctors’ visits and prescription drugs for Priority 7 and Priority 8 veterans.
"These policies are simply unacceptable," Doyle said. “Talk is cheap. Providing affordable, timely, high-quality health care to our veterans isn’t. We owe our veterans a debt we can never repay, but I firmly believe that we can and should provide them with the medical care they need.”
A number of veterans with similar concerns attended the rally and expressed similar views.