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Kaptur says Bush Administration is failing U.S. Veterans

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) released the following statement in response to data released last week showing that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) turned away nearly 10,000 Ohio veterans who applied for VA health care in FY 2005 due to the Administration’s enrollment ban. 

More than 260,000 veterans nationwide applied to receive health care at the VA but were turned away because of the Bush Administration’s cost-cutting decision to limit veterans’ access to VA hospitals, clinics and medications.  Kaptur has joined congressional Democrats in calling on President George W. Bush to seek adequate funding in FY 2007 to allow these veterans to get care and medications at the VA. The Administration will submit its budget request to the Congress on February 6.  The statement follows:

“The cornerstone at the Department of Veterans Affairs from the time of Abraham Lincoln has read: ‘To care for them who shall have borne the battle, their widows, and their orphans.’  Why can this Administration not keep that promise?

“Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the World War II, Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf War vets who served in years past are lined up, waiting to get into the VA health care system.  We know we need additional funds for veterans’ health care.  We seem to be able to find money for everything else, yet the Administration cannot get it right, or does not want to get it right on veterans care.

“Democrats in Congress have worked to secure expanded health benefits to veterans, guardsmen and reservists, by supporting increases in hardship benefits, imminent danger pay, the elimination of out-of-pocket housing expenses, and family separation allowance.  We will not stop fighting until our veterans get the benefits they have earned.”

Kaptur is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and until last year, when she was elected to the coveted House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has consistently served on the Veterans’ committees Her bill to create the National World War II Memorial, a 17-year effort from start to finish, was dedicated in 2004.

Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs indicates that the VA turned away nearly 10,000 Ohio veterans who applied for VA health care in FY 2005 due to the Administration’s enrollment ban.  Congresswoman Kaptur said she is concerned that the number of veterans shut out of VA health care is considerably larger because veterans are discouraged from even applying for care.  

State-by-state impact of enrollment ban in FY 2005
Number of veterans in each state and territory who applied for VA-provided health care and who were refused enrollment in FY 2005 because of the Administration's decision to bar access for new Priority 8 veterans.       

AK         578
AL       5,004
AR      4,983
AZ       5,835
CA    17,378
CO      3,599
CT       2,651
DC         164
DE          877
FL     27,465
GA     7,062

HI           710

IA       4,762

ID       1,608

IL       8,944

IN       5,700

KS      2,878

KY     4,506

LA      4,893

MA     3,509

MD     3,051

ME     2,403

MI      5,942

MN     5,319

MO     5,552

MS     4,308

MT     1,956

NC    10,405

ND         927

NE       1,991

NH      1,434

NJ        4,808

NM      1,851

NV      2,111

NY      9,357

OH      9,764

OK      4,013

OR      4,162

PA     13,262

RI        1,045

SC       5,964

SD       1,201

TN       6,165

TX     19,204

UT       1,361

VA      5,459

VT          751

WA     4,584

WI       6,622

WV     2,550
WY        777
Guam/Puerto Rico/
Virgin Islands    1,059
Unknown/ Other Territory 793

TOTAL: 263,257


Editor’s Note:  A new priority 8 veteran does not receive a monetary VA benefit for a service-connected disability; has an income that is above the established national and geographic threshold; and, applied for enrollment after January 17, 2003.  In 2005, the national income means threshold for a single veteran was $25,842.  The geographic means threshold for 2005 by state and county can be found at the VA’s Web site at http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/costs/docs/GMT_Income_Thresholds_2004.pdf. Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.






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