FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2015
Call for immediate action to address a reported $2.6 billion shortfall in medical care funding for FY 2015, a problem that could also repeat in FY 2016.
WASHINGTON, DC—The co-authors of The Independent Budget (IB)—AMVETS, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)— today issued the following joint statement calling on Congress and the Administration to end their political posturing and work together to immediately address a projected $2.6 billion shortfall in veterans medical care funding.
“Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will testify before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that it faces a potential shortfall of nearly $2.6 billion in medical care funding for FY 2015, possibly even running out of money by mid-September. VA’s data shows that overall demand on the VA health care system has increased by more than 10 percent between FY 2014 and FY 2015, while its budget has only increased by 2.8 percent. Unfortunately, that reality could lead to a potentially devastating outcome for the delivery of health care services to the millions of enrolled veterans, and the surprisingly large number of new veterans, seeking care.
“Last year we released, The FY 2015 Independent Budget which recommended approximately $61.1 billion for total medical care for the VA in FY 2015. However, in January 2014, Congress only provided approximately $58.9 billion for all medical care services provided by VA. We proclaimed then that VA was being placed in a precarious position that could leave it woefully short in providing health care services. Reports over the last two weeks suggest that may certainly be the case.”
“It is clear that despite the negative media attention and pressures being placed on VA to address problems with access and accountability, veterans are seeking services from the VA—both inside the system and in the community—at unprecedented rates. This continues a pattern of inadequate resources for rising demand that we have identified regularly for more than a decade, yet our calls for sufficient resources have too often fallen on deaf ears.”
“We are distressed that Congress and the Administration seem intent on playing political games and appear more interested in assigning blame than finding solutions. The simple fact is steps must be taken immediately to ensure the funding stream to provide critical health care services does not dry up.”
“There are some leaders in Congress who attribute the shortfall only to VA inefficiency, waste and mismanagement and focus on demanding accountability. On the other hand, the Administration cites insufficient resources, yet is reluctant to formally request an emergency supplemental appropriation, instead requesting authority to transfer resources from the $10 billion “choice” fund. However, unless this impasse is resolved quickly, it will be veterans caught in the crossfire who will have to worry about when or whether they will be able to get the health care services they need.”
“It’s time for Congress and the Administration to get serious about providing the additional resources needed – regardless of how they are provided – to meet demand on the system and to ensure that the interests of veterans seeking health care come first.”
“We call on both Congress and the Administration to work together in good faith and swiftly find a solution that provides VA with additional funding this fiscal year to meet the needs of veterans seeking care both from VA and through VA’s purchased care programs.”
“In addition, we call for increased funding for next fiscal year (FY 2016) for both veterans medical care and construction, to ensure that VA can fully meet the health care needs of all veterans seeking care in the future.“
“Earlier this year, we released our Budget Report for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for FY 2016 and FY 2017, which identified a need for an additional $1.35 billion for veterans medical care in FY 2016 compared to the advance appropriation already enacted. Similarly, funding for VA’s infrastructure to support the delivery of that care, primarily VA’s Major and Minor Construction accounts, are also inadequate. We recommended $1.5 billion more for construction funding in FY 2016 than the Administration requested; and the House cut that request down by another $500 million. In addition, Congress and the Administration must still reach a final funding solution to complete the Denver VA replacement medical center, a project whose completion we fully support, further increasing the need to boost funding.”
“America will not stand for her veterans being denied the health care they have earned and deserve. Congress and VA must work together now to ensure that no veteran’s health care is denied or delayed. It’s time to end the political games and keep the promise to the men and women who served.”
AMVETS: Dave Gai, 703-966-2267, firstname.lastname@example.org
DAV: Charity Edgar, 202-641-4822, email@example.com
Paralyzed Veterans: Lani Poblete, 202-416-7667, firstname.lastname@example.org
VFW: Joe Davis, 202-608-8357, email@example.com
AMVETS—A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard, Reserves and Merchant Marine. Learn more at www.amvets.org.
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with 1.2 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at www.dav.org.
About Paralyzed Veterans of America:
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For nearly 70 years, Paralyzed Veterans has ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (www.pva.org)
About the VFW:
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans service organization comprised of combat veterans and eligible military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation's largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans organization. With nearly 1.9 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in more than 6,800 Posts worldwide, “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS.” The VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs worldwide. For more information or to join, visit our website at www.vfw.org.