Senator Mark Begich today (Monday) followed up on his criticism of opponents to a bill expanding health care benefits for veterans who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill would provide support for caregivers of wounded veterans who are treated at home instead of in VA facilities. It would also expand care for female veterans and increase the benefits for those who live in rural parts of America. Begich said last week on the Senate floor that the bill would expand telemedicine facilities and would hire more medical professionals to deal with rural issues.
However Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn has put a hold on the bill, preventing it from coming to a vote by the entire Senate. He says he wants to expand the coverage it offers to veterans of previous wars – but primarily, he wants to prevent adding to the national debt.
Begich characterizes Coburn as “denying services for veterans because he is concerned about the cost.”
There is truly no price too high to take care of our veterans. The nation’s obligation to care for veterans cannot be conditioned on whether or not it can be afforded. My Senate colleague who has placed a hold has also made false claims. His claims are myths.
Begich says thirteen veterans’ groups have endorsed the bill, including the American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The Bill does not discriminate against any group of veterans. It is not a bill that benefits lobbyists and does not duplicate existing services. And as of Friday, my colleague did not have an alternative proposal available for review as he claimed. Just created myths.
Later in the day, Coburn posted on his official website three pages of budget cuts to offset the cost of the program. Among them is an elimination of air carrier subsidies for small communities – a third of which are in Alaska, cutting water and wastewater infrastructure projects, and selling unused federal property and buildings.