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of, a draft bill proposing to repeal the provisions of existing law providing (a) a minimum rate of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected tuberculosis disease which "has reached a condition of complete arrest," and (6) certain minimum disability ratings for tuberculosis for a period of time after the disease has become arrested.
Our proposal was referred to your committee on February 15, 1967. The law has prescribed the minimum rate and ratings for many years. During this period the picture with respect to tuberculosis has changed most significantly and dramatically.
The tuberculosis death rate has declined to the point of relative insignificance; advances in medical science can now bring about the rapid and stable arrest of the disease; thereafter there is little impairment of the veteran's employability or employment; and improved Veterans' Administration rating practices now permit the rating of arrested tuberculosis consistent with the basic concept of our rating schedule.
Accordingly, we believe the minimum rate and ratings can no longer be justified.
The U.S. Advisory Commission, in the course of its study, reviewed this area of the disability compensaiton program and, although it would limit the discontinuance to prospective cases, its recommendation for repeal of the statutory award and graduated disability ratings for arrested tuberculosis represents agreement in principle with the Veterans Administration.
The consideration of H.R. 16027 presents an opportunity for the committee to study our proposal with respect to arrested tuberculosis. We urge that it be incorporated in this bill.
It is estimated that H.R. 16027, if enacted in its present form, would affect some 1,951,000 veterans the first year at an additional cost of approximately $234.7 million. The number affected and the additional cost would increase slightly each year thereafter to 1,964,000 veterans at an additional cost of $236.2 million during the fifth year.
If action on the bill is limited to increase at this time for the totally disabled veterans, the first year's cost would be $137 million. This cost would be offset, in part, by adoption of the mentioned tuberculosis amendments by approximately $46 million.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement and I am available for questions.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Thank you very much, Mr. Farmer, for a very succinct and informative statement in which you have put the benefits available here in very good order and in a way that most of us can certainly understand and put them right together.
I thought as you read the statement that I wanted a copy to take to my office. As I am sure you know, most people do not live with these problems every day, so I can answer a number of questions that arise from time to time about benefits, and who is eligible and under what circumstances they are eligible.
Mr. Fino, have you any questions?
Mr. Farmer, on page 2 you say there are currently slightly over 2 million disabled veterans receiving compensation every month. Can you tell the committee what the total cost is in this program?
Mr. FARMER. The average value is about $971 per year, which makes, and I can give you an exact figure.
Mr. FINO. Yes; what is the cost?
Mr. Fino. I am very happy to see the Veterans Administration is in favor of a substantial increase for the totally disabled and that the Veterans' Administration feels that the rates proposed in the bill introduced by the chairman is justified. This is happy news for us here in this committee.
The only part that arouses my curiosity is on page 4 where you say:
We would hope the foregoing would be given serious consideration by the committee in connection with the establishment of an appropriate, effective date date for this legislation.
Now, is this in connection with the cost-of-living, across-the-board proposal ?
Mr. FARMER. Yes, sir. That is particularly as to those from 10 to 90 percent. We are less certain as to the validity of the economic impairment of those in that category than we are to the 100-percent group and, therefore, any cost-of-living increase presupposes that the base rates are correct. We are less sure of those less than 100-percent disabled than we are as to the 100's; that is, we have urged the committee to give some consideration as to the effective date that might be established in this connection.
Mr. Fino. Well, do you feel the committee should propose an 8-percent increase across the board or do you feel we should hold off on the 8 percent until the Veterans' Administration has come up with the answer?
Mr. FARMER. If I were more certain today as to when we could provide definitive data I would give an unequivocal “Yes” to your question.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Would the gentleman yield?
That was one of the questions I wanted to ask you, Mr. Farmer. You state on page 4 that you have a study going on and that you are hopeful of getting some data furnished to the committee upon which we can form some judgment as to compensation. Is there a possibility that could be available within the next few weeks?
Mr. FARMER. Not in the next few weeks but within the next few months.
Mr. KORNEGAY. You say “few." We get into an area there of doubt. Mr. FARMER. I am speaking of maybe October or November.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Well, that is too late for this Congress. That is, I would hope it would be too late for this Congress. Let me put it that way.
Mr. FARMER. That is the reason I responded the way I did to Congressman Fino. We are at a stage right now where we have 70 percent of returns from our questionnaires, the Census Bureau, I should say, has 70 percent. To be regarded as valid, there should be 85 percent returns.
Now, they are confident within the few weeks they will get 85 percent of those in. Then after that there is required a certain amount of processing of data that would permit us to draw preliminary results; therefore, that is the reason I mentioned October as probably the
earliest date we would have data on which we could form some conclusion as to economic validity but not the next few weeks; no.
Mr. KORNEGAY. If I may, I would like to ask that Mr. Farmer furnish the committee with a copy of the form which is used by the Bureau of the Census in obtaining the information we are discussing, and that this form and any other pertinent material be inserted in the record at this point.
(The material referred to follows:) The following Economic Validation Study questionnaire (Census Form S–102) was mailed to the test group, consisting of 472,615 service-connected disabled veterans, and the control group, consisting of 13,905 veterans without serviceconnected disabilities.
The Bureau of the Census, at the request of the Veterans Administration, is
Your answers will be treated as confidential by the Bureau of the Census and
Since this study is based on a sample of all veterans, it is important that each
Thank you for your cooperation in this survey.
A. Ross Eckler
Please use black pencil.
11 - 16-67
O None of it
O All of it
o Part of it 7
How many months was your longest
Fill one circle
O Before Aug. 1964
9. Do you have a disability which has been rated as SERVICECONNECTED by VA?
Yes - Go to 10 O NO - Skip to 13 on page 3