2.4 Million Veterans Will Pay New Fee
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America's Veterans


March 2, 2005 - Republican majorities on the House and Senate veterans' affairs committees have voted to impose an enrollment fee of at least $230 a year on 2.4 million veterans -- one of every three now eligible for Veterans Affairs Administration health care. Those targeted are in priority categories 7 and 8, meaning they are neither poor nor suffering from service-connected disabilities. Half of the 2.4 million used the VA health system last year. The Bush administration proposed the enrollment fee to hold down costs. The VA committees rejected another Bush proposal to raise co-payments on VA-filled prescriptions for these same priority 7 and 8 veterans. The House committee, chaired by Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., voted to set the fee for priority 7 enrollees at $230, matching the enrollment fee of under-65 military retirees using Tricare Prime, the military managed care program. For priority 8 veterans, Buyer proposes a sliding scale fee of $230 to $500, depending upon veteran income.