Statement on Signing the Veterans' Health Care Amendments of 1983

November 21, 1983

I am signing today H.R. 2920, the Veterans' Health Care Amendments of 1983, a bill which expands the health benefits available to our nation's 29 million veterans.

I am especially pleased with those provisions of H.R. 2920 that are designed to help meet the needs of aging veterans. For example, this bill will allow the Veterans Administration (VA) to provide older veterans with health care services in VA and community day health care centers. This will permit veterans to receive needed services without becoming inpatients in VA facilities. The bill expressly authorizes VA to assist veterans, usually older veterans, in obtaining residential care in community facilities following VA care. H.R. 2920 also provides an increase in per diem rates to States to help defray the costs of veterans' care in State homes as an incentive to States to continue building and expanding these facilities for veterans.

H.R. 2920 contains other health-care related provisions, such as an extension of the community-based Vet Centers program which provides Vietnam veterans with psychological readjustment counseling services. In addition, it requires the Administrator of Veterans Affairs to establish an advisory committee on women veterans and to assure that VA health care facilities can meet the gender-specific health care needs of women veterans.

There are, however, provisions in this bill which greatly concern me -- provisions which would give the VA special personnel authorities and property disposal procedures not available to other agencies. These provisions are unnecessary and costly and continue a recent, disturbing trend of giving the VA special treatment and exempting it from generally applicable executive branch rules.

Despite my reservations about the bill's compensation and property management provisions, I am approving this measure because of my strong commitment to the welfare of America's veterans.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 2920 is Public Law 98 - 160, approved November 21.