VA Budget Proposes a 10 Percent Increase for Veterans

VA-logo2The President has proposed a $152.7 billion budget for the VA. Unlike other federal agencies, that would mean an 10.2 percent increase over the current year according to the Veterans Health Administration.

The additional money will pay for three major goals: eliminating the disability claims backlog, expanding access to benefits like health care and ending homelessness among veterans.

Eliminating the Claims Backlog

Using people and a $291 million investment in technology in the coming fiscal year, the goal is to eliminate the backlog and process all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy. That’s the goal of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

  • $136 million for Veterans Claims Intake Program (VCIP); and
  • $155 million for the next generation of the electronic claims processing system Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS).

Expanding Access

Whether its making health care more accessible to veterans in rural areas or expanding veterans’ college transition programs, there’s funding to expand access. Some examples:

  • $460 million in home telehealth funding, which helps patients monitor chronic health care problems through innovative uses of the telephone, a 4.4 percent increase over the current year;
  • $422 million for women-specific medical care, an increase of nearly 14 percent over the present level;
  • $799 million for the activation of new and enhanced health care facilities;
  • $16 million for the construction of three new national cemeteries; and
  • $8.8 million for “VetSuccess on Campus” at 84 facilities, a program that helps Veterans transition to college life.

Ending Veterans Homelessness

This is a  strategic goal for the VA – to end homelessness among Veterans in 2015.  The budget request targets $1.4 billion for programs to prevent or reduce homelessness, which includes:

 

  • $300 million for Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) to promote housing stability;
  • $278 million for the HUD-VASH program wherein VA provides case management services for at-risk Veterans and their families and HUD provides permanent housing through its Housing Choice Voucher program; and
  • $250 million in grant and per diem payments that support temporary housing provided by community-based organizations.

Major Health Care Costs

The budget proposal also covers the health care costs for more than 6.5 million veterans and items like:

  • $6.9 billion for mental health;
  • $4.1 billion for health care for Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn;
  • $2.5 billion for prosthetics;
  • $601 million for spinal cord injuries;
  • $246 million for traumatic brain injuries;
  • $230 million for readjustment counseling; and
  • $7.6 billion for long-term care.
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