Since the start of the Iraq war, disabled veterans have been subject to health care budget cuts, raised premiums, and insufficient resources. This week, the House will consider two important pieces of legislation that will start expanding much needed aid to veterans.
The House will vote today on the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2006 (H.R.4843). This bill increases the benefits paid to veterans by 4.1 percent and gives survivors of military members killed in the line of duty a $250 monthly increase.
On Tuesday, the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing to discuss the Rural Veterans Health Care Act of 2006 (H.R.5524). Veterans who live in rural areas are significantly less likely to receive sufficient medical attention in a timely manner. This legislation will implement and expand rural health outreach programs, research, education, and clinical activities.
Outreach programs will seek out veterans isolated in rural areas and provide them with information about health care programs in order to increase rural enrollment. The Department of Veterans Affairs will also build and strengthen relationships with local and state agencies and community health centers in order to expand the quality of health care available to veterans in rural areas. In addition to outpatient treatment, this will include access to nursing homes, adult day care, and other long-term care options.
Even with the extra $1.5 billion supplement to veterans’ health care passed by the Senate last year, resources for veterans are stretched too thin, and many veterans, especially those in isolated areas, are not receiving adequate medical attention. This week, with the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act and the Rural Veterans Health Care Act, the House has a chance to show Americans that the federal government will not continue turning a blind eye to the needs of its veterans. The Center for American Progress urges the House to stand up for veterans and begin the process of turning these bills into substantive aid.
For other resources on veterans’ health care, see: