June 24,1999

Roth Statement at Markup of Veterans Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Finance Committee met today to mark up the Medicare Subvention Demonstration for Veterans Act. The Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) gave the following opening statement:

"We are here today to mark up a very important bill, the Medicare Subvention Demonstration for Veterans Act of 1999. This is a much anticipated event for the Finance Committee, as subvention legislation for veterans has been in progress for many years.

"I would especially like to thank Senators Moynihan, Jeffords, Rockefeller and Specter for their dedication and commitment to this effort. After many months of hard work and negotiations, I am pleased this bill has finally come to fruition.

"Maintaining access to quality health care for our veterans is of tremendous importance. Today, due to VA cutbacks, certain veterans are increasingly being denied access to VA health care. These veterans, known as priority 7 veterans, do not meet specific income thresholds or have service connected disabilities that qualify them for priority care in the VA health care system. Many of these same veterans - approximately 4 million - are also eligible for Medicare.

"The Medicare Demonstration for Veterans Act of 1999 would allow these Medicare-eligible veterans to utilize their Medicare benefits and receive Medicare-covered services through the VA health care system. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs is reimbursed by the Secretary of Health of Human Services for the care these Veterans receive. This substantially improves veterans access to the VA health system.

"In addition, the demonstration provides an opportunity to examine whether use of the VA hospitals and providers can save Medicare money.

"I am also pleased to announce the one-year extension of the Medicare Subvention Demonstration for military retirees included in the bill. I am hopeful that we can continue to work together to get this bill passed. I strongly encourage the Committee to move this bill without amendments ."