• Stimulus Package Boost to Veterans Affairs and Funding Highlights from 2010 Budget
  • April 3, 2009
  • Law Firm: LeClairRyan - Washington Office
  • In relation to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the stimulus bill provides for:

    • $1 billion for medical facilities (non-recurring maintenance and energy projects)
    • $150 million for general operating expenses (hiring and training temporary claims processors)
    • $50 million for information technology systems (VA paperless initiative and electronic health records are priority)
    • $1 million for the Office of Inspector General
    • $150 million in grants for construction of state extended care facilities (acquire or construct State nursing home and domiciliary facilities)
    • $50 million for monument and memorial repairs including energy projects

    The secretary of the VA has 30 days after the enactment of the Act (March 17, 2009) to submit to the House and Senate appropriation committees an expenditure plan.

    Funding highlights of President Obama's 2010 budget include:

    • Increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs by $25 billion above baseline over the next five years. The President's budget takes the first step toward increasing funding for VA by $25 billion during the next five years in order to honor our nation's veterans and expand the services they receive.
    • A dramatic increase in funding for veterans' health care. This increase will provide adequate resources to give 5.5 million veteran patients access to timely and high-quality care. This funding also enables VA to create "Centers of Excellence" and provides additional veteran-oriented specialty care in areas including prosthetics, vision and spinal cord injury, aging, and women's health.
    • An expansion of eligibility for health care coverage to over 500,000 veterans by 2013. The President's budget expands eligibility for VA health care to non-disabled veterans earning modest incomes. This expansion will bring more than 500,000 eligible veterans into the VA health care system by 2013 while maintaining access to high-quality and timely care for lower-income and disabled veterans who currently rely on VA medical care.
    • Improved outreach and services related to mental health care and cognitive injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, with a focus on access for veterans in rural areas. VA will increase the number of Vet Centers and mobile health clinics to expand access to mental health screening and treatment in rural areas. In addition, new funding will help veterans and their families stay informed of these resources and encourage them to pursue needed care.
    • Technology that is designed to deliver services and benefits to veterans with quality and efficiency. Through improved electronic medical records, VA will more efficiently retrieve active duty health records from the Department of Defense and enable all VA care sites to access the records of veterans needing care. VA will also invest in the development of rules-based electronic processes to increase accuracy, consistency, and timeliness in veterans' receipt of benefits.
    • Greater benefits to veterans who are medically retired from service. For the first time, highly disabled veterans who are medically retired from service will be eligible for concurrent receipt of full disability benefits from VA in addition to Department of Defense retirement benefits.
    • Provisions to combat homelessness by safeguarding vulnerable veterans. The President's budget expands VA's current services to homeless veterans through a collaborative pilot program with non-profit organizations. This pilot program will help to maintain stable housing for veterans who are at risk of falling into homelessness while helping VA to continue providing them with supportive services.
    • Implementation of the comprehensive education benefits that veterans earn. Facilitates timely implementation of the comprehensive education benefits veterans earn through their dedicated service. This budget provides the resources for effective implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill - providing unprecedented levels of educational support to the men and women who have served our country through active military duty.