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thedrifter
10-04-02, 06:09 PM
* * VETERAN'S NEWS and VIEWS * *
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Severely Disabled Veterans Get Health Care Priority from VA


WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Veterans Affairs is
establishing priority access to health care for severely disabled veterans
under new regulations recently announced.

"It is unacceptable to keep veterans with service-connected medical problems
waiting for care," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi.
"These veterans are the very reason we exist, and everything we do should
focus first on their needs."

The new regulation is being implemented in two phases. Under the first
phase, which is being implemented immediately, VA will provide priority
access to health care for veterans with service-connected disabilities rated
50 percent or greater. This new priority includes hospitalization and
outpatient care for both service-connected and non-service-connected
treatment. VA will continue to treat immediately any veteran needing
emergency care.

In the second phase, which will be implemented next year, VA will provide
priority access to other service-connected veterans for their service-
connected conditions.

The number of veterans using VA's health care system has risen dramatically
in recent years, increasing from 2.9 million in 1995 to a projected 4.4
million in 2002. An additional 600,000 veterans are projected to enroll in
VA health care in 2003. Unable to absorb this increase, VA has more than
280,000 veterans on waiting lists to receive medical care.

Although VA operates more than 1,300 sites of care, including 163 hospitals
and more than 800 outpatient clinics, the increase in veterans seeking care
outstrips VA's capacity to treat them.

"VA provides the finest health care in the country, but if a veteran cannot
see a doctor in a timely manner, then we have failed that veteran," said
Principi.

"I will work to honor our commitment to veterans," he added. "But when it
comes to non-emergency health care, we must give the priority to veterans
with severe service-connected disabilities."

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http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X36314519

SOURCE U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

CO: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

ST: District of Columbia

SU: LEG

http://www.prnewswire.com

10/03/2002 15:59 EDT

Sempers,

Roger