(Washington, DC – DAV) -- After 2-meetings with the professional staff of the House Budget Committee, it is the understanding of the DAV National Organization that a review, studying the effects of Public Law 104-262, the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, will soon be considered by the House Budget Committee.
As a way to curb the federal deficit, the Committee is considering the eviction of 1.3 million veterans with non-service-connected disabilities from VA Health Care.
Any finding that recommends a system for veterans based on the merits of a veteran’s claim or disability will be bad for veterans’ health care, bad for government spending and bad for the deficit.
- Veterans using VA Health Care for non-service-connected injuries or illnesses are subject to both first and third party collections. They and their personal medical insurance companies are billed and ultimately pay any expenses that are incurred by VA Health Care for their medical treatment. Eliminating these veterans from VA Health Care will result in zero savings.
- Eliminating veterans using VA Health Care for non-service-connected injuries or illnesses with no personal medical insurance will not result in any savings. Medical treatment for these veterans, if done outside VA Health Care, will be paid by Medicare/Medicaid (or written off as bad debt by private facilities and providers), at a much higher cost to taxpayers. (On the average, VA Health Care has the lowest cost per patient of any health care provider.) The higher medical treatment payments for these veterans, using health care provider other than VA Health Care, given the higher cost, will increase government spending and increase the deficit.
- Additionally, funds for medical treatment will be diverted to create an agency or department whose main purpose will be to evaluate the worthiness of veterans to use VA Health Care. Its sole purpose will be to deny veterans access to VA Health Care, a dubious goal.
VA Health Care is #1 in quality of care, patient satisfaction, lowest in medical errors, and lowest in cost per patient, besting any health care provider in the private sector. These outstanding achievements are predicated on a properly funded “Full Continuum.” Any tinkering with this Continuum will have a devastating impact on VA Health Care, veterans, government spending and the deficit.
To keep cost low, a high patient volume is essential for VA to bargain for pharmaceuticals and medical services. Any volume reduction will reduce this bargaining power.
Also, lower volume will decrease medical staff, which in turn will have an adverse effect on patient care and medical quality. Reductions in VA funding will have the same negative impact to patient care and medical quality, eventually resulting in an increase in government spending and the deficit.
For VA appropriations to be spent effectively and efficiently, a properly funded “Full Continuum” is essential and necessary.
The relationship between veterans and the government is based on a historical covenant. Today, this relationship is a sacred obligation that begins at enlistment and lasts throughout the course of a veteran’s life.
To classify veterans as worthy and unworthy of VA Health Care, who through no fault of their own, were not exposed to combat, denigrates the service and sacrifice of many.
When the public recognizes an individual as a veteran, they invariably say, “Thank you for your service.” Never does anyone ask, “Did you serve in combat or not?” Neither should Congress.
It is the goal of Disabled American Veterans to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure that VA appropriations are spent effectively, efficiently and wisely. Maintaining the “Full Continuum” will do just that.
Disabled American Veterans is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian and nonprofit veteran service organization, founded in 1920 and congressionally chartered in 1932. It is the nation’s largest veteran service organization of wartime service-disabled veterans.