New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 28, 1995, New Braunfels, Texas
Wednesday, June 28, 1995 ■ Herald-Zeitung ■ 5Senior citizen hopes city starts public transit
I am in support of the van line service that is being proposed. I no longer drive due to a medical condition.
I have been a resident of New Braunfels for many, many years. I am very excited to think of a better van service.
I certainly hope this service becomes a reality!
Sincerely, Carol C. Carlson New BraunfelsDebats over cutting benefits for veterans is full of disinformation
As Congress debates ways to end our budget deficit, many programs, including those for America’s veterans, have been the focus of intense scrutiny. Unfortunately, in the debate on veterans’ programs, much of what is being said is just plain wrong.
Despite statements from some quarters that veterans’ programs have escaped the budget axe, the fact is that veterans’ programs have been hit— and hit hard! The cuts in veterans’ health care and benefits contained in the deficit-busting budget proposed by Congress go far beyond the fair share expected by most Americans to help this nation get its fiscal house in order. In fact, the cuts proposed for veterans’ programs will be disastrous.
Specifically, budget proposals being
considered by Congress would result in significant cuts in veterans’ entitlement, construction and support programs—$8.3 billion in the House and $15 billion in the Senate. But largely unreported because of budget “gobbledygook,” these budget proposals also would freeze total funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital system for the next 7 years. Even Medicare and Medicaid get nominal, if inadequate increases under both budgets over that same time period. The result to the VA system, according to the Senate and House Budget Resolutions, would equate to losing nearly one-quarter of the VA work force and up to 41 300-bed hospitals.
VA critics also say veterans* programs were immune from cuts in recent years. Again, this just is not true. In 1986, Congress means-tested health care for veterans with non-service connected disabilities, all by denying access to the system and to 17 million of the then 28 million veterans. The action saved the government billions of dollars by drastically rationing care for the growing number of aging WWII and Korean War veterans.
Subsequent federal budget cuts have reduced veterans’ entitlement and discretionary spending by more than $10 billion. At the same time, some veterans were required to pay for using VA services—through their own insurance, user fees, copayments and deductibles. These payments, designed to offset the cost of VA care, actually will go
straight to the U.S. Treasury and reduce the deficit by some $5 billion during the next 7 years. Budget reductions have fbrced VA to reduce its work force by some 3,500 hospital workers in the past 2 years, and to close mors than 32,500 acute operating beds in the past 15 years.
Media reports routinely repeat statistics from VA critics who use distorted calculations to state that “only” IO percent of the veteran population utilize and therefore somehow “like” to go to the VA. This ignores the fact that only 41 percent, approximately 11.5 million of our country’s 27 million veterans—mostly veterans with service-related disabilities and means-tested low-income veterans—are even eligible for most VA services. Of those, according to the VA patient treatment file, nearly 4.9 million individual veterans relied on VA services during the period from 1987 to 1992. That’s approximately 50 percent. Simple logic indicates that multi-year usage of a hospital system is a far more accurate gauge to determine true use and need than the one-year snapshot critics consistently quote.
The debate also ignores the fact that VA is a unique national resource, providing care to a population that is older, suffering from chronic disabilities and in need of expensive long-term acute and sustaining care. Closing VA hospitals only would shift the burden for that care to already overburdened Medicare, Medicaid and the private
sector. For our country’s most seriously disabled veterans, specialized services in areas such as spinal cord injury, blind rehabilitation, prosthetics and mental health, generally are not available elsewhere even if a way could be found to pay for them.
Veterans groups share the concern that federal expenditures must be brought under control and have conducted studies on how to make VA more efficient. To our disappointment, a VA reform plan developed and widely circulated by our organization, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars has not been considered seriously by Congress. Our proposal would streamlirtfe VA health care, provide flexibility to shift care from inpatient to more efficient outpatient settings and save $2 billion next year.
The bottom line i» that we are not suggesting VA should not be scrutinized, but feel that media coverage of veterans’ programs should reflect VA health care services as they really are— not just as VA critics state they are.
Richard Grant, national president
Paralyzed Veterans of AmericaLots of people to thank for Three Parks Run support
I would like to commend the Herald-Zeitung for its excellent coverage of the
Schlitterbahn Three Parks Run on June 3,1995. Managing Editor Doug Lovely and Sports Editor Thomas Godley were very supportive of our event and covered it very well. I guess it doesn’t hurt that they are both runners! Thomas Godley even ran in the race and finished in an excellent time. I would also like to thank our corporate sponsors who made the event possible: Sherrie Brammall and Rick Faber of Schlitterbahn, Zero Rivers of Rockin ‘R’, Ray Parker and Deliria Alvarado, of HEB; Craig Walker, of Kwik-Kopy; Cheryl and Barney Randall, of Artesia; Run-Tex; Roger Soler Sports; Power-Ade; Power Bar; Howard Athas, of Wholesale Beers; and Don Maxwell Chevrolet. Thanks to Mike Shands, David Whatley, Iris Neffendorf and Officer Wommack for their excellent assistance. A record 420 runners/walkers and kids attended this year with a record of 136 entries from New Braunfels. Thanks for attending and helping raise funds for Hospice New Braunfels.
Sincerely yours, Susan Phillips, race director, Schlitterbahn Three Parks Run (Editor's Note: The above letter was run in the Sunday Herald-Zeitung, but two names were accidentally omitted.)Thanks for supporting Bible study group
The Upper Room Bible Study group would like to thank the following mer
chants for their contribution to the youth Bible studies held every Wednesday during the summer: Mr. Gatti’s Pizza, T.J.’s Burgers and More, Sonic Drive-In, and Domino’s Pizza.
The Upper Room Senior High Bible Study group is sponsored by St. Paul Lutheran Church, Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, First United Methodist Church and First Protestant Church. Any high-school-age youth is invited to come from 7 to 11 p.m. every Wednesday for an evening of fellowship, food, fun and Bible study.
Thank you, The Upper Room Bible Study groupPaula DiFonzo answered all my questions
To heed advice I often dispense, also to avoid “the sin of silence,” I met Ms. DiFonzo at a NBU water meeting.
Earlier, due to a phone conversation, I viewed Ms. DiFonzo as having a salty, sarcastic tongue—again, I had made another mistake. Eureka! She answered all questions posed, promptly and truthfully—a most refreshing experience for this reporter.
Their “setting sun” has begun to peek above the eastern horizon—the credit belonging to the Herald vox populi.
Sincerely, Marc Herman
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Goal of fixing flawed welfare system is in sight
Kay Bailey Hutchison
No one ever said fixing our abysmally flawed welfare system would be easy.
While the 104th Congress has made historic progress on this repair project, the finishing touches remain to be drawn.
I am convinced that the block-grant approach, which both the House and Senate have approved in principle, offers the best hope of accomplishing what we’ve set out to do. It is designed to provide states with the flexibility to create programs that meet their individual needs—programs which will encourage their welfare recipients to make responsible choices.
But there remains to be settled an issue of basic equity. Simply put, there is no reason why the federal government should subsidize poor children in fast-growing states such as Texas.
The current reform plans would freeze Texas welfare funding at the current level over the next 5 years despite the fact that Texas is expected to witness a population increase of nearly 20 percent over that same peri
od of time.
Meanwhile, states with stagnant or negative population growth would receive, in effect, more funding for each child on public assistance than would states that are growing.
The Senate has not yet finalized its welfare block-grant formulas. But under the House-approved bill, Texas’ allocation for family assistance would equal current federal welfare spending in Texas—about $440 million annually. That amount would increase by only $11 million over the 5-year period of the program.
It is unfair to force Texas or any other state to bear the burden of disproportionate population growth. The needs of high-growth states must be part of the equation.
One way we see to achieve this would be for the Congress to set aside,
out of the overall welfare block-grant pie, supplemental grants to high-growth states.
And I’ve been working with other senators from high-growth states to develop a better basic formula, one which includes credit for state’s growth rates and the number of children they have living in poverty. We have succeeded in getting the Senate Finance Committee to adopt a formula that increases Texas basic block grant from $440 million to $507 million—an increase of $67 million a year.
We must not lose sight of the fact, however, that the underlying objective of welfare reform is to reduce longterm welfare dependency and bring about lower rates of growth in the programs.
Eventually, our overhaul should make the welfare system shrink—suc
cessful reform by anyone’s definition.
(Kay Bailey Hutchison is a Republican U.S. Senator from Texas )
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