VETERANS HEALTHCARE, INCREASE OF $1.64 BILLION

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HOUSE PASSES APPROPRIATIONS BILL H.R. 2528

VETERANS HEALTHCARE INCREASE OF $1.64 BILLION

Washington, DC Today by a vote of 425-1, the House passed H.R. 2528, the Fiscal Year 2006 Military Quality of Life Appropriations Act.  The bill provides an increase of $1.64 billion over FY05 funding levels for veterans healthcare.

The $1.64 billion increase will allow veterans to receive the quality healthcare and medical services that they so richly deserve, said Chairman Buyer.  The bill also provides significant funding for veterans’ specialty mental health programs, including PTSD treatment. 

America’s warriors and their families can rest assured that VA will be funded at an increased level in order to treat battlefield exposures to shock, trauma and the stressors of combat, Chairman Buyer added. ……..

     

Chairman Buyer has worked to increase funding for veterans in several areas:

VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION

 Veterans Healthcare funded at $1.64 billion above FY05, a 9 percent increase and $1 billion above the budget request.  Veterans Healthcare and medical services are funded at $21 billion.

Veterans healthcare has increased by 18 percent over the last two years.

Funds $2.2 billion specifically for veterans specialty mental health programs, including PTSD treatment, which includes a $100 million increase over current funding, in recognition of the wartime needs of returning servicemembers.

Doubles funding for mental health research.

Increases major veterans health facility construction funding by 33 percent.

Includes $10 million for a new revenues improvement demonstration program that will allow the VA to more readily collect 3rd party billing/funds.

Maintains the partnership between the VA and States for cost-sharing in caring for veterans in State nursing homes.

VETERANS BENEFITS ADMINISTRATION

Funds cost-of-living increase (COLA) for service-connected veterans and survivors. 

Increases readjustment benefits funding by 26 percent, primarily to fund expanded education and training benefits for Reserve personnel ordered to active service and changes in the Montgomery GI Bill education program.

Funds pension, and burial benefits. 

Funds administration and supervision of VA insurance programs, such as SGLI Servicemembers Group Life Insurance, to ensure benefits will be paid in a timely fashion upon death of participating servicemembers and veterans to their designated beneficiaries.

NATIONAL CEMETERY ADMINISTRATION

Funds operation and maintenance of VA’s national cemeteries, as well as land acquisition for new cemeteries in Bakersfield, CA; Birmingham, AL; Columbia-Greenville, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Sarasota, FL; and southeastern PA.

Funds cemetery expansion and improvements at Ft. Rosecrans, CA.

Funds State Cemetery Grants Program.

INSPECTOR GENERAL

Office of Inspector General (OIG) The bill provides $70,174,000 for the Office of Inspector General, an increase of $1,021,000 over last year’s funding level. The funding increase will assist OIG in overseeing the quality of health care services, identifying internal control vulnerabilities in benefits payment processes, and detecting waste, fraud and abuse through extensive review and analysis of VA databases and matching initiatives. 

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