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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Vice President


For Immediate Release July 26, 1999
            VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE ANNOUNCES ADMINISTRATION
     TO SEEK AN ADDITIONAL $1 BILLION FOR VETERANS' HEALTH PROGRAMS

Washington, DC -- Vice President Al Gore announced today that the Administration will seek an additional $1 billion to ensure that America's veterans have timely access to quality health care. The White House budget office will forward the request in a letter to Congress today and will send a detailed budget amendment later this week.

"Our veteran population is aging -- and with that fact, the need for high quality health care becomes even more important," Vice President Gore. "Last March, I had an opportunity to meet with the heads of the Veterans' Service Organizations to talk about what we could do to improve veterans' benefits in our budget. I heard those concerns, and I believe today's announcement is an important step in addressing them."

The proposed increase announced today will be fully paid for and is composed of $800 million to address quality and waiting time issues in the health care system, $100 million for infrastructure needs associated with this problem, and $100 million for long-term care. Specifically:

The $800 million will be used to ensure that medical care workers -- from physicians to technicians -- have the resources they need to reduce waiting time and ensure quality care. A portion of these funds will be directed specifically to homeless veterans and care of spinal-cord injured veterans.

The $100 million for long-term care needs will provide non-institutional care targeted to the highest priority veterans. VA has been expanding this care for several years as a supplement to the institutional care they have provided for many years.

The $100 million will support construction of more clinics and examination rooms to provide better outpatient services.

"Overall, this is an important step in ensuring the health of the people to whom we owe the health of our democracy, and I look forward to working with Congress to make sure it passes without delay," Vice President Gore said. "I am proud to honor America's veterans with this commitment to them -- one that is worthy of their commitment to each of us."

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