Veterans deserve the utmost care and respect. When a military member is honorably discharged from the military, they are granted access to several benefits for themselves and their family, including access to VA medical care. While this may initially sound great, the VA has been under the microscope lately relating to its ability to care for its patients, who are veterans. The changes are still unfolding, and, luckily, spending bills were approved by the Senate to fund the rapid changes being made to the VA in hopes of caring for veterans.
Bi-partisan efforts approved the bills by unanimous vote last week. The bills granted emergency spending to the tune of $3.9 billion, a large percentage of which has been allocated to the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to receive private medical care at government expense. In addition, the remaining $1.8 billion would go to support VA health programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities, a huge win for veterans’ issues supporters.
Essentially, the Senate and other government officials are taking steps to improve the VA’s ability to care for veterans. Without the spending packages approval, those in favor argued that it would have disrupted medical care for thousands come mid-August. However, the crisis was avoided when the spending package was approved. With so many changes happening with the VA in such a short amount of time, a shortage in funds is not surprising as the projected costs and actual costs are reconciled.
This will be a short term solution in funding the VA’s ability to care for veterans. At some point, the Senate and other federal representative will need to devise a long-term spending package and budget for the VA. With the VA granting veterans the ability to seek private health care at the cost of the government, it may be difficult to foresee costs. However, they will need to project accurate estimates in order to settle on a long-term solution.
Source: ABC News, “Senate OKs bills to address VA budget crisis, claims backlog,” August 1, 2017