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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

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    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Cutting Budgets: The Administration is cutting back on veteran's benefits, which has some people upset:

    Veterans groups attacked the proposals. Richard B. Fuller, legislative director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, said: 'The proposed increase in health spending is not sufficient at a time when the number of patients is increasing and there has been a huge increase in health care costs. It will not cover the need. The enrollment fee is a health care tax, designed to raise revenue and to discourage people from enrolling.'

    Mr. Fuller added that the budget would force veterans hospitals and clinics to limit services. 'We are already seeing an increase in waiting lists, even for some Iraq veterans,' he said.

    In Michigan, for example, thousands of veterans are on waiting lists for medical services, and some reservists returning from Iraq say they have been unable to obtain the care they were promised. A veterans clinic in Pontiac, Mich., put a limit on new enrollment. Cutbacks at a veterans hospital in Altoona, Pa., are forcing some veterans to seek treatment elsewhere.

    One reason there are long waiting lists at some VA centers is that they're being inundated with affluent older veterans who use them as a source of cheap drugs and free healthcare - even though they have generous medical coverage through their employers and Medicare. Going to the VA allows this group of veterans to drive a nicer class of car, take better vacations, and spend more on their kids and grandkids than they could if they relied only on their Medicare and their secondary insurance. In fact, their use of the VA system as a sort of Sam's Club pharmacy is pretty transparent. Most of them go through perfunctory doctor's visits at VA clinics and promptly ignore their advice. They go to their local primary care doctors for their regular check-ups and to their local hospitals when they need hospital care. And most of them were never injured in the line of duty. At least, that's been my experience.

    And it's that group who are, rightly, the targets of the budget cuts, which are rather modest:

    The president would increase the co-payment for a month's supply of a prescription drug to $15, from the current $7. The administration says the co-payment and the $250 "user fee" would apply mainly to veterans in lower-priority categories, who have higher incomes and do not have service-related disabilities.

    Note the Paralyzed Veteran's of America shouldn't be affected, at least if they became paralyzed in the service and not as a civilian on their Harley.

    posted by Sydney on 2/07/2005 06:21:00 AM 0 comments


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