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STAGGERS: VA CHIEF'S COMMITMENT TO KEEPING VA HOSPITALS OPEN APPRECIATED

STAGGERS: VA CHIEF'S COMMITMENT TO KEEPING VA HOSPITALS OPEN APPRECIATED
 WASHINGTON, April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Rep. Harley Staggers (D-W.Va.) said that Veterans Administration Chief Ed Derwinski's on-the-record commitment to keeping VA hospitals open is appreciated and welcomed.
 Unfortunately, said Staggers, many veterans may remain skeptical given the fact that Veterans Administration Secretary Derwinski has also said that the VA's proposed rural health care initiative would not affect health care for veterans.
 The VA rural health care initiative would open VA hospitals to non- veterans in rural areas.
 "Secretary Derwinski's commitment to keeping VA hospitals open is appreciated and welcomed," said Staggers.
 Following a recent meeting with members of the House Appropriations and Veterans Affairs committees, Staggers reported that there were serious concerns that VA funding lost to the space station last year, coupled with reports of a $900 million cut for the VA being considered by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), could force the closing of VA hospitals.
 In reaction, Derwinski issued a release saying funds lost to the space station last year would not lead to the closing of any VA hospitals.
 Staggers said that Derwinski's top aide, Tony Principi, agreed with him that a $900 million cut in VA funding being considered by OMB would be "devastating."
 "I know that Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Bob Traxler is committed, as I am, to ensuring that no VA hospitals are forced to close," said Staggers. "I'm glad to see that Secretary Derwinski has announced he shares our commitment."
 Staggers said that Traxler warned last year that going ahead with the space station would make it increasingly difficult to fund veterans' health care.
 "Every veteran in this nation knows that VA hospitals are failing to provide adequate health care," said Staggers. "There was a clear choice in the Congress last year -- money for the space station or increased funding for veterans' health care. I voted against the space station."
 Staggers said the $1.9 billion earmarked for the space station last year not only took money away from VA programs, but also came at the expense of housing, environmental programs, and other NASA projects.
 "Some estimates put the total cost of the space station at $180 billion," said Staggers. "That's $180 billion that will not be spent on taking care of our needs right here on Earth. That's $180 billion that will come at the expense of other important programs, including health care for veterans."
 -0- 4/13/92
 /CONTACT: Jim Watkins of U.S. Rep. Harley Staggers' office, 202-225-4331/ CO: ST: West Virginia, District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:


ML -- PG009 -- 7868 04/13/92 14:52 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 13, 1992
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