Military construction-VA package
passes Senate subcommittee
By Andy Leonatti CongressDaily
July 7, 2009
The Senate Military Construction-VA Appropriations Subcommittee
unanimously approved a nearly $134 billion spending package for fiscal
2010 on Monday.
The subcommittee moved the bill by unanimous consent without any
amendments. It provides $133.9 billion, including $76.7 billion in
discretionary spending. On June 24, the House Appropriations Committee
approved a $133 billion total spending package.
Military Construction-VA Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tim
Johnson, D-S.D., said the discretionary spending was more than $439.1
million over President Obama's request, and $3.8 billion more than
fiscal 2009 enacted spending.
The bill approves $109 billion total for the Veterans' Affairs
Department, including $53.2 billion in discretionary funding, $150
million above Obama's request. Total medical care funding for VA is
Johnson said the subcommittee has "done our best to address both the
needs of the military and our veterans in this legislation."
The bill provides $48.2 billion in advance appropriations for the VA for
fiscal 2011, Johnson added. The advance appropriations include $37.1
billion for medical services, $5.3 billion for medical support and
compliance and $5.7 billion for medical facilities.
The VA funding includes $2.1 billion for health care for veterans of the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a $463 million increase over fiscal 2009,
and $5.9 billion for long-term care for aging veterans and severely
wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. It also includes $1.9 billion for
VA hospital and clinic construction.
Subcommittee ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, praised the
bill, and said it was "good that construction needs are met." Hutchison
was pleased that $7.5 billion for the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure
program was included, and said fully funding the program would ensure it
would finish on time in 2011.
The bill also provides $1.4 billion for military construction projects
VA Launches 10-Year Study of
Appropriations Update More Info
July 8, 2009
On Tuesday, June 16, 2009, Representative Chet Edwards, Chairman of the
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans
Affairs, and Related Agencies, announced final numbers for the fiscal
year (FY) 2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations
Act and the news is very good for veterans. The full Appropriations
Committee approved the bill on June 23.
In a historic first, the appropriations act for FY 2010 also includes
$48.2 billion in advance appropriations for fiscal year FY 2011 for
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care. This is an eight
percent increase over the proposed FY 2010 level, and will provide
reliable and timely funding to support the delivery of medical care.
Advance appropriations has been DAV's highest legislative priority this
year and its inclusion in this year's funding bill is a major victory
for all veterans.
Furthermore, to make this victory permanent, both the House and Senate
are moving towards passage of the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and
Transparency Act (H.R. 1016/S. 423), legislation that would authorize
advance appropriations for VA medical care programs in statute and
create new budget reporting requirements to aid Congress in setting
sufficient funding levels for veterans health care. On June 23, the
House voted 409 to 1 to pass H.R. 1016. This measure has now been sent
to the Senate for consideration. Please continue to write your elected
officials on both of these important bills.
The appropriations bill also included $53 billion in discretionary
funding for VA for FY 2010, which is a record level of funding. This
total is slightly more than the President's request and $5.4 billion
more than FY 2009 non-emergency appropriations. This discretionary
• $45.1 billion for the Veterans Health Administration, $4.4 billion
above FY 2009
• $580 million for medical and prosthetic research
• $2.1 billion for general operating expenses, $287 million above FY
2009, which includes an additional 1,200 additional claims processors.
• $250 million for the National Cemetery Administration, $20 million
above FY 2009
• $19.2 million for the Office of Inspector General
• $3.3 billion for Information Technology; and
• $1.9 billion for VA construction, $256 million above FY 2009.
It is unclear when the full House will consider the MilCon/VA
On July 6, 2009, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military
Construction, Veterans' Affairs, and Related Agencies marked up the bill
at similar levels as the House for FY 2010 and FY 2011.
On July 7, 2009, the full Committee approved these levels and sent the
bill to the full Senate for approval.
Both the House and Senate Committees provide $48.2 billion in advance
appropriations for FY 2011
July 17, 2009
DoD, VA Make
Progress in Care for Wounded
and Veterans Affairs departments have made significant inroads toward
forging a joint plan to care for wounded service members, the
Government Accountability Office stated in a July 8 report to
Congress. The two agencies are doing a better job of routing wounded
veterans to the evaluation and care they need, as well as determining
if they can resume their military careers or need transition services,
according to the GAO report.
But more work
is needed to resolve issues like timely resolution of cases, and
standardization of terminology.
DoD and VA still must agree on a definition of “mental health.” The
report noted that the DoD and VA Joint Executive Council is still
working on these issues.
For Immediate Release
June 26, 2009
Receive Property Tax Relief
Military veterans who are totally disabled or cannot work because of
service-related injuries will pay no property taxes on their homes
under a new tax exemption approved by the Legislature.
"Texas has done the right thing by
providing property tax relief for our military men and women who have
served their country and paid a heavy price," Texas Comptroller Susan
House Bill 3613 provides an exemption of
the total appraised value of the homesteads of Texas veterans who have
received a 100 percent disability rating or are considered
unemployable by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The new law
is effective for the 2009 tax year, and swift action is necessary to
update local property tax rolls and ensure eligible veterans receive
the new tax break.
Eligible disabled veterans must apply
for the tax exemption through their county appraisal district. An
application form for veterans and appraisal districts to use can
be found on the Comptroller’s Web site at http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/taxforms/vetexempt.pdf.
Veterans may also need to contact their
mortgage lenders to adjust their escrow payments.
July 23, 2009
in Women Veterans a Challenge for VA
have identified a number of challenges they face in providing health
care services to the increasing numbers of women veterans seeking VA
health care, among them space constraints, GAO told the Senate
Veterans Affairs Committee recently.
the number, size, or configuration of exam rooms or bathrooms
sometimes made it difficult for facilities to comply with VA
requirements related to privacy for women veterans.
reported challenges hiring providers with specific training and
experience in women's health care and in mental health care, such as
treatment for women veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or
who had experienced sexual trauma, according to GAO-09-884T
GAO said VA
provided health care to over 281,000 women veterans in 2008 - an
increase of about 12 percent since 2006 - and the number of women
veterans in the United States is projected to increase by 17 percent
between 2008 and 2033.
While GAO said
the results of the site visits it partly based its testimony on can
not be generalized across all VA facilities, VA officials generally
agreed with its observations.
July 29, 2009
GAO Calls for Management Improvements to
Health Records Effort
While the VA and DoD have made progress setting up a joint interagency
program office to act as a single
point of accountability in the development of electronic health
records systems by a September 30 deadline,
the office is not yet effectively positioned to be accountable for the
departments' efforts to achieve
fully interoperable electronic health record systems or capabilities,
GAO told a House panel.
The departments have taken the important
steps of completing personnel descriptions and hiring necessary
staff to perform the office's functions, but key leadership positions
– such as those for the director
and deputy director continue to be filled on an interim basis,
according to GAO-09-895T.
It said the office has also established
a charter and begun to demonstrate responsibilities outlined
within this document, but still needs to begin fulfilling key IT
management responsibilities in the areas
of performance measurement, project planning, and scheduling, all of
which are essential to establishing
the office as a single point of accountability for the departments'
So far the departments have achieved
planned capabilities for refining social history data, sharing
physical exam data, and demonstrating initial network gateway
operation. They have yet to realize
capabilities to expand questionnaires and self-assessment tools,
expand DoD inpatient medical records
system, and demonstrate initial document scanning, said GAO.
July 31, 2009
SMA Calls for
Sgt. Maj. of
the Army Kenneth O. Preston used a July 23 appearance on Capitol Hill
as an opportunity to press lawmakers to improve service members’
access to TRICARE services. TRICARE provides service members and their
families with access to health care when military treatment facilities
are not readily convenient. But many civilian doctors decline to
accept TRICARE, because of lengthy waits for reimbursement of
services, Preston told members of the House Armed Services Military
Personnel Subcommittee during a hearing on military family support
programs. “One of the major accessibility challenges to getting
quality medical care if finding sufficient health-care providers
outside our military installations who accept TRICARE payment,”