Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole last week told a veterans convention that he wouldn't cut Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare benefits in his efforts to balance the budget and provide a 15% tax cut.
Speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Louisville, Ky., Dole said he wanted a VA healthcare system that "reflects 21st-century healthcare advances."
"I will be a president who will work for a VA healthcare system that provides modern medical care more efficiently and more effectively, and who provides much-needed reform of healthcare benefit eligibility requirements," said Dole, who spent three years in an Army hospital recovering from severe wounds he suffered during World War II.
Vice President Al Gore, meanwhile, told the VFW a day later that a Republican Congress would cut veterans benefits to pay for tax breaks.
The Clinton administration has sought to reform the $16.6 billion VA healthcare system by streamlining its 173 hospitals into 22 integrated delivery networks.
The administration, working with congressional veterans affairs committees, also has sought to reform the VA's eligibility laws. Those laws make it easier for some veterans to qualify for inpatient care than outpatient care, driving up the system's costs.