Why The 11th District Needs Heath Shuler in Congress!

Now, Let's just see what our current administration could be up to! Just why do we need Heath in Washington for us? Lets explore the situation a little!

Whoops! In sworn testamony before the Senate Affairs Committie and everyone else New VA Secretary James Nicholson discussed the 2007 VA Budget,proposal that would give the department $80.6 billion, a 12.2 percent increase.

Remember last June? The Administration was faced with having to make up for a $1 billion shortfall in VA's budget! Note: According to the Congressional Record & other sources the admendment to prevent this from happinging again was voted down by Sens. Dole & Burr! Nicholson says he is confident of the budget this time though! Nicholson pointed out that the fiscal 2005 budget was based on 2002 data that did not reflect operations in Iraq, he said, whereas the 2007 budget is based on 2004 data that reflects the increased rate of veterans applying for benefits following combat service.

Whoa There a Minnute!! Hold those Horses! 2005's budget was based on 2002 and 07 is based on 04! Does that make any sense to anybody here? Hey,Wait a minute! Just why did Nicholson, a Nam Vet & West Pointer, whose only experence I think was a head of the Republican Party & Ambassodor to the Holy See replace Decorated Nam Vet Anthony Principi as Secretary anyhow? I found a interesting comment by Syndicated Columnist Robert Novak on that and I quote: Syndicated columnist Robert Novak gives us an interesting look into the demise of Rep. Chris Smith(R-NJ), former Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Novak, by anyone's definition an arch-conservative, has stinging words for the Bush Administration in his column, "GOP: The Price of Being Right."His basic thesis is: step out of line and pay the price Rep. Smith was always considered a friend of veterans, but was known to lock horns with Republican leadership when he pushed for more VA funding. He was unceremoniously removed from his Chairmanship and replaced with Rep. Steve Buyer(R-IN), who has shown himself to be no friend of veterans. Principi locked horns with Bush too so I guess he got the Boot too.
Now, For you folks who possibly might not be veterans out there let me explain this to you. You just cannot keep applying "Band-Aids" or "Duct Tape" to the gapeing holes in the VA budget & expect it to hold! Not even 200 mph Nascar tape will hold!.
Rep. Lane Evans (D-IL), ranking Democrat on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, warned that the problem of chronic underfunding of veterans' health care is again causing budget shortfalls at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics across the nation. Rep. Evans and Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME), ranking Democrat on the Health Subcommittee, have called upon the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in a joint-letter sent today, to provide a full and accurate accounting of current shortfalls."I am distressed by reports of $500,000 to $18 million shortfalls we are hearing from VA medical facilities across the nation from Seattle, Washington to West Palm Beach, Florida, from White River Junction, Vermont to San Diego, California," said Evans.In response to Rep. Michaud's questions at the February 14, 2006, Committee hearing on the VA health care budget, VA officials conceded to shortfalls at some facilities.

While denying a system-wide problem, VA officials revealed that VA was planning to notify Congress that it needed to shift money around in its medical care program accounts to cover gaps in funding. VA officials also acknowledged regional health care networks might be transferring funds between networks to cover funding gaps. In their letter to the Secretary, Representatives Evans and Michaud warned,

"These actions are early warning indicators that something is amiss with VA's funding for FY 2006."Rep. Filner (D-CA), who is also on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, urged early action. "Veterans' health care needs real funding. In the short-run, transferring funds may camouflage the shortfall but it does not rectify the underlying problem," said Filner. Source: http://www.vawatchdog.org/ Mabie this is one of the reasons a 70 yr old Veteran while in the autrum of the Asheville,NC VAMC pulled a pistol from his pocket and shot himself.

Yet, during my appointment the next day it was as if no one really cared and there was only 1 police officer on duty!At the GAO link; http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06305.pdf , you can find where from 2003-2005 the VA reported 1 contract alone with a ad agency for $5,603,000 looking for help in Medical Centers!

The DOD advises 30 percent of returning troops will have PTSD issues. Add to that the wounded and injured. The VA did a PTSD Review, but kelpt it secret until was made public in a press release by Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs! Makes me feel real good as I suffer from it!

The plans Craig Brought to light on November 16, happened just six days after they had canceled a review of 72,000 PTSD claims awarded at 100 per cent disability.And while they added $339 million to the FY07 budget for mental health inpatient, partial hospitalization and other services. Even with these additional funds, however, the budget is not adequate to meet the growing needs of veterans with mental illnesses. In the Statement of the American Psychiatric Association Presented to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health February 14, 2006 which you can view at http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/schedule109/feb06/2-14-06h/apa.html they reported the following ,Patients with severe PTSD increased 42% from 1998 to 2003, while expenditures increased only 22% during that same time. Veterans who are service-connected for PTSD use VA mental health services at a rate at least 50% higher than other mental health user groups. There have been reports, including one by the GAO, that some networks have established either rigid limits for the use of some medications (for instance, atypical antipsychotics) or have simply insisted on the use of generics, together with other restrictions.

The APA has joined with other advocacy organizations in opposing the implementation of the new treatment guidelines for atypical antipsychotic medications for veterans with schizophrenia.Veterans with substance use disorders are drastically underserved. The dramatic decline in VA substance use treatment beds has reduced physicians’ ability to provide veterans a full continuum of care, often needed for those with chronic, severe problems.

While the Administration’s budget does allow for increases in spending over FY06, the APA is concerned that the budget assumptions, such as the reliance of legislative proposals to collect user fees and copays from priority level 7 and 8 veterans, might be overly ambitious. The Friends of the VA advocacy group estimates that up 200,000 vets will drop out of the VA system with the proposed copays.

While level 7 and 8 veterans are not service-connected for disability, we are concerned that the VA has not considered the impact on those 200,000 who rely on the VA to pay for psychiatric medications such as anti-depressants that keep them well and employable.Over 470,000 veterans are service-connected for mental disorders. • Over 130,000 of these veterans are service-connected for psychosis. • In 2003 alone more than 77,800 veterans received specialized care for PTSD with tens of thousands more receiving some type of care through their primary care clinic.• More than 185,000 are service-connected for PTSD, a disorder most often directly related to combat duty. • Veterans with mental illnesses also have significant medical comorbitities and are therefore difficult and expensive to treat. • Over 30% of the homeless population in this country are veterans with mental disorders and substance use conditions. So, Now who do you trust? Source: GAO REPORTS