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Veterans Health Care Funding Reform Bill Promises Transparency, Accountability
Date:2/12/2009

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Disabled American Veterans today applauds the introduction of much-needed legislation that provides sufficient, timely and predictable funding for veterans health care and an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability to the budget process.

"The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act is all about making government more efficient, transparent and accountable. These are three key elements that President Obama, Congress and veterans all agree are needed in these challenging times," said DAV National Commander Raymond E. Dempsey. "Now, more than ever, it is absolutely imperative for Congress to end the old-style partisan politics of gridlock and reform the budget process to ensure that veterans, particularly sick and disabled veterans, have access to quality and timely health care," he said.

Dempsey praised the bill's sponsors for their bipartisan commitment to America's veterans. "We are grateful to the bill's lead sponsors, Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (Hawaii) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) in the Senate, and Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (Calif.) and Rep. Walter Jones (N.C.) in the House. We also have the full support of Senator Tim Johnson (S.D.) and Rep. Phil Hare (Ill.), both of whom have led Congressional efforts for mandatory funding of veterans health care in prior Congresses, and are now backing this effort," Dempsey said. Other cosponsors include Sens. Begich (Alaska), Bingaman (N.M.), Boxer (Calif.), Feingold (Wis.), Landrieu (La.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Menendez (N.J.), Murkowski (Alaska), Rockefeller (W.Va.), Sanders (Vt.), Stabenow (Mich.), Thune (S.D.) and Vitter (La.). Other House cosponsors include Reps. Michaud (Maine) and Herseth Sandlin (S.D.).

The measure would authorize Congress to approve VA medical care appropriations one year in advance of the start of each fiscal year, which would help end funding delays that have plagued VA when Congress has failed to pass appropriations bills on time. The legislation would also add needed transparency to the process by having the Government Accountability Office (GAO) review and report on the VA budget request. The advance appropriation legislation picked up bipartisan support after its introduction last, including then-Senator Obama, who pledged during his Presidential campaign to request it in his first budget submission for fiscal year 2010.

"This sufficient, timely and predictable funding mechanism will allow the VA to work better and smarter in caring for our nation's veterans, including those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Dempsey. "This legislation will once and for all end the funding delays that for decades have threatened the VA's ability to deliver timely, quality medical services to the nation's sick and disabled veterans," he said.

The DAV and the eight other members of the Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform, along with a growing coalition of military and veterans groups, former VA officials and hospital directors, and an overwhelming majority of American voters, all support legislation to approve VA's health care funding one year in advance.

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

The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans is dedicated to building better lives for our nation's disabled veterans and their families. For more information, visit the organization's Web site, www.dav.org.


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SOURCE Disabled American Veterans
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