Leading vets groups commend President’s VA budget submission

The nation’€™s top three veterans service organization have released their latest edition of The Independent Budget to coincide with the Administration’€™s fiscal year 2019 budget recommendation for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For more than 30 years, the three Independent Budget co-authors: DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), and the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) have presented budget and policy recommendations to Congress and the Administration. These recommendations,€” which are supported by 27 other health, family, military, and veteran service organizations,€” are meant to inform lawmakers of the needs of all veterans, and to offer substantive solutions to address the many health care and benefits challenges they face. This independently-developed budget serves as the veterans group€™ benchmark for properly funding the VA to ensure the timely delivery of quality health care and accurate and appropriate benefits.

Regarding the Administration’s budget submission, the Independent Budget veterans service organizations (IBVSOs) commend the president’€™s proposed $12.1 billion increase over FY2018, citing much-needed increases in funding for VA health care, construction and information technology modernization.

Questions remain, however, over the availability of existing and proposed funding, as neither the House nor Senate have passed legislation establishing a path forward for the Choice program. VA also plans to change how community care obligations are recorded, which will result in a one-time funding availability of $1.8 billion. Additionally, $1.9 billion is to be carried forward into FY2019 from VA’s FY2018 Choice program request. Due to uncertainty over the future of the Choice program, it remains unclear whether VA will actually have that $3.7 billion of requested resources available in FY2019.

The IBVSOs maintain Congress must provide the necessary resources to successfully implement any newly enacted community care legislation to ensure veterans receive high-quality and timely medical care from VA, and when necessary in the community.

Additionally, the IBVSOs have concerns over initiatives in the Administration’€™s budget proposal that would lessen one veteran’€™s benefit in order to increase another€™s.

Ashleigh Byrnes