Bush Proposal To Improve Health Care For Veterans Meets Resistance In Congress

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Veterans Health Care

One day after President Bush submitted a proposal to Congress that would revamp the veterans' health and disabilitysystems based on recommendations from a presidential commission, Senate Veterans' Affairs CommitteeChair Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) said he sees "no basis" for combining thepresident's draft legislation with other bills already underconsideration in Congress, CQ Today reports. The House and Senate have passed legislation (HR 1538) on wounded veterans that now is in conference, and the defense authorization bill (HR 1585) also includes provisions for wounded servicemembers.

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Akakasaid, "Whatever legislation is finally submitted by the White Housewill not have my support as a replacement for the Wounded Warriorlegislation that is now pending in the defense authorizationconference."

Senate Armed Services CommitteeChair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the defense authorization bill'sconferees "will examine the provisions contained in the White Houseproposal to see if they can be incorporated into a conference report."

The Department of Veterans Affairsin a statement said, "We look forward to working with Congress topromptly pass the initiatives announced by the president and willcontinue to work with members on the legislation currently inconference" (Yoest, CQ Today, 10/17).

Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and University of Miami President and former HHSSecretary Donna Shalala -- co-chairs of the presidential commission --on Wednesday testified before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.They presented the committee with what Dole called "a fairly limitedlist" of six initiatives drawn from their recommendations. Shalala saidthey offered a small, manageable list of proposals as a means to applypressure on Congress to act quickly (CongressDaily, 10/18).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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