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Vets' health ideas called unpassable

©Associated Press
February 12, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Several administration proposals to meet growing health care needs of the nation's veterans, including raising prescription drug copayments, have no chance of winning congressional approval, the Republican chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee said Tuesday.

"A few of these proposals simply won't fly," said Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J.

Smith told a hearing on the president's fiscal 2004 budget proposal for veterans that he saw no reason for his panel to even consider proposals to more than double the prescription copayment charged to some better-off veterans and to close 5,000 VA nursing home beds. Another proposal in the budget to impose an annual enrollment fee for some veterans "also raises questions."

Lawmakers questioned whether the VA was realistic in assuming $2.1-billion in collections for the year from fees and reimbursement from private insurers.

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