From: "\"Doc\" Bruce K. Melson" <>




Evans and Snyder Commend Secretary Principi's Action Updating Rating Criteria
for Liver Diseases

Washington, DC - Congressman Lane Evans of Illinois, the Ranking Democratic
Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and Congressman Vic Snyder a
leading advocate for veterans diagnosed with Hepatitis C, commended the
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi for promulgating a final
regulation for rating liver diseases which recognizes disabilities associated
with Hepatitis C.  The prior regulations had not been revised for over 50
years and were issued long before Hepatitis C was recognized as a separate
disease entity.  The new rule is effective July 2, 2001.

Veterans who were service-connected for Hepatitis C often had claims rated
inappropriately because VA claims personnel had difficulty in reconciling
outdated regulations with the symptoms of Hepatitis C and the side effects of
treatment, such as incapacitating fatigue.  The new regulations reflect
changes in medical diagnosis and treatment.  Earlier this year, Ranking
Member Evans and Christopher Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on
Veterans Affairs had written to Secretary Principi urging promulgation of the
new rating schedule that had been issued as a proposed regulation during the
Clinton Administration.

Congressmen Evans and Snyder encourage any veteran who has been
service-connected for Hepatitis C and who believes that his or her medical
condition may result in a higher rating under the new regulations to ask VA
to increase their rating.  Since VA currently has a large number of claims
awaiting adjudication, it may be some time before the claim can actually be
evaluated for a revised rating.  However, it is important for veterans who
believe their disease meets the new rating criteria to present their request
in a timely fashion.

Hepatitis C is a serious disease that is more prevalent in veterans than in
the general population.  Many veterans have had difficulty in establishing
service-connection for Hepatitis C, since a test for the disease was not
available until 1992.  In order to assist veterans in establishing
service-connection for Hepatitis C, Congressman Snyder has urged adoption of
a presumption of service-connection for veterans who were exposed to risk
factors for Hepatitis C during military service.  A proposed regulation
providing for a presumption of service-connection for Hepatitis C was drafted
by the Department of Veterans Affairs, but was withdrawn for further review
after President Bush assumed office.  Evans and Snyder urge Secretary
Principi to publish a proposed regulation providing for presumptive
service-connection soon.






"When the way comes to an end, then change - having changed, you pass through."

      I. Ching


 Bruce "Doc". Melson