By Rick Maze, Staff writer
Congressional negotiators have taken a big leap in expanding veterans' health care by proposing Veterans Affairs Department treatment for veterans and dependents exposed to contaminated well water at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Up to 750,000 people â€” Navy and Marine Corps members and their families â€” may have been exposed to water found to be contaminated by carcinogens from the 1950s into the 1980s.
North Carolina lawmakers have been pushing for years for the federal government to cover health costs for people who were exposed, but there have been sharp disagreements about who should be responsible: the Defense Department, which owned the base, or VA, which covers service-connected illness, injury and disability.
This is a big step because VA provides very little health care for dependents, concentrating on veterans rather than their families. But it is not unprecedented.
Those covered must have lived or worked on Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days from Jan. 1, 1957 through Dec. 31, 1987.
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