House Panel Rejects Administration Move To Increase VA Loan Fees
WILLIAM M. WELCH
Feb. 20, 1987
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Reagan's proposal to sharply raise fees for VA home loans failed its initial congressional test before a House committee that also recommended increased spending on veterans' medical care.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee, voting unanimously by voice Thursday, called for an additional $716 million in the Veterans Administration budget for fiscal 1988.
Included in the report to the full House Budget Committee was a recommendation that $30 million be added to the VA budget to care for the treatment of veterans with AIDS.
The panel also voted unanimously to send to the full House a resolution saying Congress opposes Reagan administration spending recommendations that would eliminate money to care for certain categories of middle-income veterans.
''Unlike the president's budget, we have recognized that the veteran population is getting older and that as they get older, they will seek care more often and they will require longer lengths of stay,'' said the panel's chairman, Rep. G.V. Montgomery, D-Miss.
Reagan's proposed VA budget included a provision to raise the fee for home buyers under the VA mortgage guarantee program from 1 percent to 2.5 percent of the loan amount.
Critics said that would more than double the amount of cash veterans must have when they get a VA loan and decrease the attractiveness of the program to veterans. Lenders and homebuilders have opposed the increase.
The committee's proposal would keep the fee at 1 percent and require an additional $411 million in outlays to cover revenues anticipated by the fee increase.
It also would add $246 million to allow the VA's system of hospitals and other medical facilities to continue current services in fiscal 1988. The president's proposal would eliminate money to care for veterans of moderate income and who are not otherwise entitled to care because of military injury or other reason. The committee estimated the administration's proposal would reduce VA patients per year by more than 13,548.
The committee also voted for more money to house homeless veterans, to build VA hospitals and nursing homes, and to treat AIDS, the deadly acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
''The VA is treating approximately 1,000 patients a year,'' Montgomery said. ''We were told the average cost per patient is about $40,000, yet OMB (the Office of Management and Budget) is not allowing VA to ask for any additional money for the care and treatment of these veterans.''