Increase Funding for the VA Health Care System

Post date: Jun 2, 2012 12:19:53 PM

Friday, June 01, 2012

Earlier this year, DAV and our partner organizations in The Independent Budget, recommended that funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) FY 2013 health care budget be increased by $3.8 billion in order to meet increased demand and rising health care costs. By contrast, the Administration’s budget proposal called for a $2.3 billion increase for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), a difference of $1.5 billion. We strongly believe the additional funds we identified can be put to effective use within VA, including better meeting the needs of new veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On May 31, by a vote of 407-12, the House passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. The bill includes a measure that would boost suicide prevention and homeless assistance funds for veterans. It would also provide $71.7 billion in discretionary funding for veterans’ benefits about four percent above the FY 2012 level, but $1.5 billion less than The Independent Budget recommendation.

Recently, we saw evidence of the negative effects of inadequate funding at a Senate hearing when witnesses testified that VA is failing to meet the mental health needs of the veterans it should be serving. VA’s Inspector General reported that these problems were caused by a multiplicity of factors, including funding and staffing shortages, and lack of quick, easy access by veterans to VA’s many mental health programs. The Inspector General’s findings are consistent with DAV’s own internal survey of the VA mental health care system that showed serious problems with access and response for veterans seeking care.

If you or a family member have experience with VA mental health care and would like to add your voice to our continuing survey, please complete the survey here.

We need grassroots support: please use the prepared e-mail to write your Senators to urge them to increase funding for VA’s FY 2013 appropriation by at least $1.5 billion for medical care services to match or exceed the recommendations of the Independent Budget. We are concerned that failure to provide this increase could lead to further disruptions of VA health care and other vital programs, including its critical mental health efforts.

As always, we at DAV are grateful for your participation in our legislative and grassroots advocacy program. Without your active assistance DAV would not be able to accomplish many of our goals in support of the interests of sick and disabled veterans.