(By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kiss, and Delegates Amores, Anderson, Armstead, Ashley, Azinger, Beach, Beane, Blair, Boggs, Border, Brown, Browning, Butcher, Calvert, Campbell, Cann, Canterbury, Caputo, Carmichael, Caruth, Craig, Crosier, DeLong, Doyle, Duke, Ellem, Ennis, Evans, Faircloth, Ferrell, Fleischauer, Foster, Fragale, Frederick, Frich, Hall, Hamilton, Hartman, Hatfield, Houston, Howard, Hrutkay, Iaquinta, Kominar, Kuhn, Leggett, Long, Louisos, Mahan, Manchin, Manuel, Martin, Mezzatesta, Michael, Morgan, Overington, Palumbo, Paxton, Perdue, Perry, Pethtel, Pino, Poling, Proudfoot, Renner, Romine, Schadler, Shoen, Shaver, Shelton, Smirl, Sobonya, Spencer, Stalnaker, Staton, Stemple, Sumner, Susman, Swartzmiller, Tabb, Talbott, R. Thompson, R. M. Thompson, Trump, Tucker, Varner, Wakim, Walters, Warner, Webb, Webster, G. White, H. White, Williams, Wright, Yeager and Yost)

[Introduced January 21, 2003; referred to the

Committee on Rules.]

A resolution urging President Bush to reconsider newly issued VA regulations that will change veterans' access to health care services, making veterans endure long waiting period for care.

Whereas, That in this time of uncertainty, the West Virginia Legislature believes that all veterans who depend on Veterans Affairs for their health care should be welcomed with open arms; and
Whereas, In 1996, Congress passed eligibility reform, allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a standard benefits package for all veterans who enrolled in the VA health care system for all veterans to receive care in a timely manner; and
Whereas, With this reform, more and more veterans turned to VA for their health care causing enrollment to sharply increase; and
Whereas, Because of insufficient resources to cover this new demand, the Department of Veterans Affairs chose other methods to manage enrollment issuing a mandate prohibiting all enrollment generating activities-such as health fairs; and
Whereas, In addition to this mandate, the VA also issued new regulations requiring VA clinicians to give priority for health care services to veterans with service-connected conditions; and
Whereas, This new priority system will provide limited assistance for the more than 300,000 veterans waiting to be seen by VA clinicians, and could more than double the time they are made to wait for care; and
Whereas, This new priority system fails to take into consideration the medical needs of patients while also denying clinicians the necessary flexibility to effectively triage patients based on medical need; which was the reason that Congress, in the Eligibility Reform Act, repealed priorities for care based on any factor other than medical need; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the West Virginia Legislature urges President Bush to address the importance of health care access for all veterans and reconsider newly issued regulations that change veterans' access to health care services, forcing veterans to endure long waiting periods for care; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the West Virginia Legislature expresses its concern that this major change will take effect without affording Congress, veterans or veterans' advocates the opportunity to comment on the changes; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk is hereby directed to transmit a copy of this Resolution to President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi and the West Virginia Congressional Delegation.