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A Veterans Administration report released Monday that claims the GOP budget would leave more than 100,000 veterans without health coverage "is plainly designed to energize veterans groups against the budget, and is a good example of the Clinton Administration pulling every stop they can to derail the Republican cuts," says Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. The VA report claims that as many as 172,000 of some 600,000 vets who are covered by Medicaid would be dropped from the program; at the same time, the report projects that higher Medicare premiums could force up to 400,000 new veterans to seek VA health care. Those assumptions may be overblown, however, since vets don't necessarily prefer to seek their medical care at veterans hospitals, when they have the choice, as many Medicare recipients do. Mark Thompson notes that since younger vets have never been as eager as their World War II counterparts to seek medical care in VA hospitals, the VA was already an increasingly underused and inefficient system. If the budget legislation actually forced more vets to use VA hospitals, the Veterans Administration might be on firmer ground. While the VA argument may be weak, though, the power of the VA lobby is not. Says Thompson: "Like AARP [the American Association for Retired Persons] veterans groups are very disciplined with considerable clout on Capitol Hill, especially with Republicans."