Congress needs to come together and pass a VA budget quickly, or all we have accomplished here today will be for naught.
Washington (Vocus) October 25, 2009
Today President Barack Obama signed a bill into law authorizing Congress to finance veterans’ health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs one fiscal year in advance. AMVETS National Commander Duane Miskulin was on hand at the White House with leaders from other top veterans’ organizations for the monumental signing.
For 13 years, AMVETS has been pushing Congress to overhaul the VA funding mechanism as a member of the Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget reform, a consortium of the nation's top veterans' organizations, concerned over the effects of VA budget delays on veterans who rely on VA health care.
“President Obama’s signing of the VA advance appropriations bill is a monumental step for our nation's veterans and the culmination of more than a decade of hard work by AMVETS and the Partnership,” said Miskulin. “To the average veteran, advance appropriations means better access to care, shorter wait times for appointments, and shorter lines at the VA medical center since VA will be able to implement new programs and hire additional staff in a timely manner, rather than waiting for Congress to sort out political matters, while veterans suffer.”
Congress has failed to deliver the VA budget on time for 20 of the last 23 years, including this year. Miskulin said this forces VA to essentially ration care in the interim, while Congress hashes out the details. The Obama Administration had made advance appropriations a top priority for VA after listening to key voices within the veterans’ community, such as AMVETS, calling for sufficient, timely, and predictable funding for VA health care.
The Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform originally asked Congress for assured VA funding, providing a baseline from which appropriators could work, rather than asking VA to compile an entirely new budget each fiscal year.
Congress and the veterans’ community reached a compromise with advance appropriations, allowing for VA health care to be financed a year in advance based on proven corollaries to predict the department’s needs. Leading up to each fiscal year, Congress will have the ability to adjust VA’s budget based on conditions that may arise between passage and implementation.
With advance appropriations finally a reality, AMVETS will now shift its focus to pressuring Congress into passing the FY2010 VA budget, which is now nearly a month late. The new budget, which will include health care provisions for FY2011, will be the first to contain advance appropriations.
“Today’s signing was a monumental step for our veterans, but the work continues,” said Miskulin. “Congress needs to come together and pass a VA budget quickly, or all we have accomplished here today will be for naught.”
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit AMVETS.org.
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