HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - Under a proposal announced last year, some Vietnam Veteransaffected by Agent Orange could receive more benefits from theHampton VA Medical Center.
Specifically, Vietnam veterans exposed to the agent orangeherbicide who suffer from B cell leukemias, Parkinson's disease,and ischemic heart disease would have presumptive status, making iteasier for them to obtain benefits.
Adding these three new ailments would bring to 15 the number ofmedical conditions that have presumptive status in connection toagent orange exposure.
But Virginia Senator Jim Webb is asking the Secretary ofVeterans Affairs to reconsider these additions, citing a costfeared to be as much as $42 billion over the next ten years.
In a letter obtained by WAVY News 10, Senator Webb writes toSecretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, stating in part:
"This single executive decision is estimated to cost a minimumof $42.2 billion over the next ten years. A regulatory action ofthis magnitude requires proper Congressional review andoversight."
Webb also writes, "Heart disease is a common phenomenonregardless of potential exposure to Agent Orange."
Vietnam Veteran Steve Newsom disagrees, telling WAVY News 10that any disease with possible links to Agent Orange exposure needsto be checked into, and if that link can be proven, treatmentshould be covered by the VA.
If the proposal adding three new medical conditions to'presumptive status' is approved, not only would the VA pay out onnew claims, but thousands of veterans previously denied coveragewould be eligible for retroactive payments.
Senator Webb recently added an amendment to the House spendingbill that would block the new benefit for at least 60 days soCongress can determine if it's necessary.
Newport News police officers are in the middle of a massive operation to get wanted criminals out of the neighborhoods. They are rounding up everyone who has an outstanding warrant.
Hampton Roads Transit customers could see higher fares to ride the bus, light rail and ferry.
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