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VFW CHIEF APPLAUDS BILLS TO HALT TREATMENT OF NON-VETERANS AT VA HOSPITALS

 VFW CHIEF APPLAUDS BILLS TO HALT TREATMENT
 OF NON-VETERANS AT VA HOSPITALS
 WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Separate legislation introduced this week by U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby (D-Ala.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), which, if enacted would halt Secretary of Veterans Affairs Edward Derwinski's proposal to allow non-veterans to be treated at VA hospitals, was hailed by the leader of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
 Robert E. Wallace, of Milton, N.J., commander-in-chief of the VFW, applauded the senators for their public stand in support of America's veterans.
 Wallace, who in October denounced the move by Derwinski to begin the program -- Rural Health Care Initiative -- to treat non-veterans in VA hospitals, said, "Our legitimate concerns fell on deaf ears at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA system, underfunded for the past decade, does not have the resources which would permit it to take on the added burden."
 The VFW leader said, "No recent issue has aroused the veterans of this nation as much as this initiative. The VFW is especially attuned to the health care crisis in America, a crisis that demands immediate attention; however, efforts to seek affordable health care alternatives should not be at the expense of our nation's veterans."
 Shelby, who served eight years as a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said it is "legislation that will end a policy that is neither reasonable nor right, neither rational nor justified."
 Specter in his statement said, "Fiscal constraints are forcing veterans hospitals to turn away eligible veterans from the very facilities designed by law and national commitment to serve them while, at the same time, opening the doors of these same facilities to non-veterans."
 At the VFW's 92nd National Convention in August, the 2.2 million member veterans group adopted a resolution opposing non-veteran access to VA health care. The resolution, urging the Congress to reject such proposals, reminds both the Congress and the administration of their collective commitment to fund programs providing high quality medical care to veterans entitled to such by reason of their prior service to the nation.
 -0- 2/5/92
 /CONTACT: William G. Smith, director, public affairs, VFW Washington office, 202-543-2239/ CO: Veterans of Foreign Wars ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:


MH-DC -- DC032 -- 7361 02/05/92 16:34 EST
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Date:Feb 5, 1992
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