13 February 2007 at 4:40:02 PM
Even as Bush is pushing an escalation of troops into Iraq, thus showing a lack of concern for American troops, he's cutting off health care for the vets that will be returning at that time. Shame on him.
Chet Edwards (US District 17) whose strong suit is that he supports veterans has strong words for what appears to be public relations bait and switch.
After an increase sought for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly -- by more than 10 percent in many years -- White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.
The proposed cuts are unrealistic in light of recent VA budget trends -- its medical care budget has risen every year for two decades and 83 percent in the six years since Bush took office -- sowing suspicion that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better.
"Either the administration is willingly proposing massive cuts in VA health care," said Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, chairman of the panel overseeing the VA's budget. "Or its promise of a balanced budget by 2012 is based on completely unrealistic assumptions."
How many veterans are we talking about?
The number of veterans coming into the VA health care system has been rising by about 5 percent a year as the number of people returning from Iraq with illnesses or injuries keep rising. Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans represent almost 5 percent of the VA's patient caseload, and many are returning from battle with grievous injuries requiring costly care, such as traumatic brain injuries.
All told, the VA expects to treat about 5.8 million patients next year, including 263,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
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