A coalition of veterans organizations called on President Bush and Congress to pass legislation making funding for veterans health mandatory. The announcement came at a rally held on the first day of the Republic National Convention in New York.
Funding for veterans health is currently discretionary. Saying that for every dollar spent on a Medicare beneficiary only 58 cents is spent on veterans health, speakers at the rally called for support for two pieces of legislation currently pending in Congress, HR2318 introduced by Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.) and S50 sponsored by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.).
According to rally organizers, the VA's enrolled patient population grew to 6.8 million in 2003, up from 2.9 million in 1996, a 134% increase. During the same period, funding for VA healthcare rose 44% from $16.6 billion to $23.9 billion. -- by Tony Fong