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Historic Legislation to End Delays in Veterans Health Care Funding
Date:9/18/2008

New National Poll Shows Large Majority Supports Funding Reform

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nine of the nation's largest veterans service organizations, representing a combined 8 million members, today praised Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-Calif.), and a group of bipartisan cosponsors for introducing legislation to reform the budget process to assure sufficient, timely and predictable funding for veterans' health care programs.

The Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform (http://www.fundingforvets.org), which worked closely with the bill sponsors in drafting the legislation, is comprised of AMVETS, Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Jewish War Veterans (JWV), Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA).

"For almost two decades, veterans health care funding has either been insufficient or late, and usually it is both," said PVA President Randy Pleva, speaking on behalf of the Partnership. "While funding bills have increased in recent years, especially the last two years, they are still consistently late. We must reform the funding system if we are to assure comprehensive and timely health care services for current and future generations of veterans," he said.

American Legion National Commander David K. Rehbein, also speaking for the Partnership, praised the bill's bipartisan cosponsors, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Congressmen Walter Jones (R-NC), Michael Michaud (D-ME), and Phil Hare (D-IL). "We applaud all of the bill's sponsors who have taken the lead in Congress to create a lasting legacy for our veterans by reforming the budget process to ensure that veterans health care funding is sufficient, timely and predictable," Rehbein said.

The new legislation, called the "Veterans Health Care Budget Reform Act", would authorize advance appropriations for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care programs one year in advance of the start of the fiscal year, an idea favored by more than 80 percent of American voters, according to a survey released today by the Disabled American Veterans.

The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform Act would also require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit VA's budget forecasting model and report to Congress and the public on the integrity and accuracy of the model. With these estimates in hand, Congress would be greatly enhanced in their ability to develop and enact sufficient funding levels for VA health care.

"While funding levels have increased in recent years, particularly over the past two years, Congress has failed to approve a new VA appropriation bill on time for 19 of the past 21 years," said DAV Commander Ray Dempsey. "Our polling results show that the American people overwhelmingly support a proposal to have Congress approve VA's health care funding one year in advance to once and for all end these delays," Commander Dempsey said.

The poll released by DAV this morning, which was conducted by Belden Russonello & Stewart, found that Americans believe veterans health care funding is at the top of our national priorities; strongly believe that the government is not doing enough to support veterans; and overwhelming favor requiring Congress to determine the budget for veterans' health care one year in advance to prevent delays. The nationally representative telephone survey of 827 adults was conducted between August 20 and 24, 2008 and has a margin of error of 3.4%. Full details of the survey are available at http://www.dav.org/voters/documents/veteran_survey_memo.pdf.


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SOURCE Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform
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