Congressional Leaders Push To OK VA Health Funding in Advance
The chairs of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs committees are pushing for legislation that would allow Congress to approve funding for veterans' health care programs one year in advance, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, the so-called advance appropriation would separate VA health care funding from "the crush of appropriations and political horse-trading that take place at year's end."
Senate committee Chair Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and House committee Chair Bob Filner (D-Calif.) said delays in funding are unacceptable during a time of war.
Akaka said, "The Department of Veterans Affairs operates the largest health care system in the nation, but its funding is untimely and unpredictable."
Akaka said, "Unlike Medicare and Medicaid, VA never knows what its level of funding will be for the next year. VA health care providers are tied down by uncertainty," adding, "This situation is bad for taxpayers, bad for VA and bad for veterans."
The Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform, a coalition of major veterans groups, and Akaka say that funding delays affect veterans' care and can lead to wait times for appointments and make hiring personnel and purchasing equipment more difficult.
Filner said the legislation is a compromise that does not require mandatory funding for any veterans' programs. "You can't run an agency if you can't get timely funding," Filner said (Alvarez, New York Times, 9/19).