Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Senator challenges VA's coverage of 3 new illnesses linked to Agent Orange
June 08, 2010|By Jason Grotto and Tim Jones, Tribune Newspapers
Citing the billions more it will cost, Sen. Jim Webb asks VA secretary for explanation as he freezes funds to pay for expansion of coverage
A U.S. senator who is also a highly decorated Vietnam veteran has called into question the spiraling costs of disability claims stemming from veterans' exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War.
Late last week, Sen. Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat and former secretary of the Navy, sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki — another decorated Vietnam veteran — raising concerns over Shinseki's move to add three more illnesses to the list of ailments for which the VA provides compensation.
Webb asked the secretary to explain his decision to the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, on which Webb serves. At the same time, Webb also pushed through an amendment to an emergency supplemental bill that would delay by two months the transfer of $13.4 billion to cover the VA's costs for the new ailments while Congress reviews Shinseki's order.