9/11 First Responders Health Care Bill | An Independent Voters View
As the Senate considers funding healthcare legislation for the first responders and workers at ground zero. I am struck by the magnitude of the bill vs the number of people being helped. I don’t have any issues with helping these folks; in fact I think we as a people are obligated to do so. They rode to the sound of the guns, and we do in fact owe them at least as much healthcare security as we give our military.
Much was made about the original fast track vote in the House of Representatives because the fast track version could not be debated or amended and needed a 2/3 vote to do so. Repubs and some Dems said no and carried the day to much derision by some Democrats, which was always loud, and never recognizing that there might be a better way to do it. Since that time, with debate and working together the projected costs were reduced by over $1 Billion and the methodology to pay for it was put in place.
All well enough I would suppose. but I think we could actually do better by them by designating them veterans of the GWT so instead of creating an additional bureaucracy to handle these individuals, Congress and the President should do as we finally did for the US Merchant Marine Veterans of WWII, and that is declare them Combat Veterans of the Global War on Terror and authorize them full VA Benefits.
I suspect it would be the most cost efficient, and more importantly it brings them into the brotherhood of veterans where they belong and would be welcomed by Vets like me. It would also avoid creating a whole new class of beneficiary programs, when future events take place (and they will). It has the benefit of taking politics out of it and funding for it could well be achieved by the plan to close loop holes in certain fees and taxes on Government Contractors already proposed. Those new fees could be pipelined to the VA for that purpose and when these individuals’ needs are met the funds could be used for the military and future GWT responders as well. It would be fair, it would be need based, and would not exceed those benefits given to our nations warriors.
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