Tuesday, July 24, 2007

VA funding

Support veterans by printing the following and mailing it to your Congressman or Senator. Hard copy mail gets more attention than email. If you can't afford the postage, email is good too.


Upcoming Congressional testimony effectively ends

arguments that VA healthcare funding should remain

part of the discretionary budget process.

This coming Wednesday, July 25, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs will hold a hearing on VA healthcare funding.

The highlight of that hearing will be testimony by Joe Violante, National Legislative Director of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

Violante will be speaking for the Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform, a partnership formed by The American Legion, AMVETS, Blinded Veterans Association, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Military Order of Purple Heart of the U.S.A., Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Vietnam Veterans of America.

The testimony includes nine reasons why mandatory VA funding WILL work.  The reasons are posted below.  This is a must read and should be passed on to all veterans and their families.

You can read or download the entire testimony... click here...

For more on mandatory VA funding, use the VA Watchdog search engine...click here...

Myths vs. Reality below:


Mandatory VA Healthcare Funding


MYTH: Congress would lose oversight over the VA health care system if VA shifted from discretionary to mandatory funding.

REALITY: While funding would be removed from the direct politics, uncertainties, and capriciousness of the annual budget-appropriations process, Congress would retain oversight of VA programs and health care services—as it does with other federal mandatory programs. Guaranteed funding for VA health care would free members of Congress from their annual budgetary battles to provide more time for them to concentrate on oversight of VA programs and services.

MYTH: Mandatory funding creates an individual entitlement to health care.

REALITY: The Assured Funding for Veterans Health Care Act would shift the current funding for VA health care from discretionary appropriations to mandatory budget status. The Act makes no other changes. It does not expand eligibility for an individual veteran, make changes to the benefits package, or alter VA’s mission.

MYTH: Guaranteed funding would open the VA health care system to all veterans.

REALITY: The Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 theoretically opened the VA health care system to all 27 million veterans; however, it was never anticipated that all veterans would seek or need VA health care. Most veterans have private health insurance and will likely never elect to use the system. The Secretary is required by law to make an annual enrollment decision based on available resources. This bill would not affect the Secretary’s authority to manage enrollment, but would only ensure the Secretary has sufficient funds to treat those veterans enrolled for VA health care.

MYTH: Guaranteed funding for VA health care would cost too much.

REALITY: Guaranteed funding under the Act would utilize a formula based on the number of enrolled veterans multiplied by the cost per patient, with an annual adjustment for medical inflation to keep pace with costs for medical equipment, supplies, pharmaceuticals and uncontrollable costs such as energy. The Act would ensure that VA receives sufficient resources to treat veterans actually using the system.

MYTH: Veterans in Priority Group 7 and 8 are using up all of VA’s health care resources; and it therefore costs too much to continue to treat these veterans.

REALITY: Among the 7.9 million enrollees in the VA health care system, 2.4 million veterans from Priority Groups 7 and 8 account for only 30 percent of the total enrolled population but use only 11 percent of VA’s expenditure for all priority groups.

MYTH: The viability of the VA health care system can be maintained even if VA only treats service-connected veterans or the so- called “core group,” Priority Groups 1-6.

REALITY: VA health care should be maintained and priority given to treat these veterans, since many of the specialized services they need are not available in the private sector. However, to maintain VA, a proper patient case mix and a sufficient number of veterans are needed to ensure the viability of the system for its so-called core users and to preserve specialized programs, while remaining cost effective.

MYTH: Providing guaranteed funding for VA health care will not solve VA’s problems.

REALITY: With guaranteed funding, VA can strategically plan for the short- , medium- and long-term, optimize its assets, achieve greater efficiency and realize savings. VA continues to struggle to provide timely health care services to all veterans seeking care due to insufficient funding, and always uncertain funding beyond the operational year. The guaranteed funding formula in the bill provides a standardized approach in solving the access issue and permitting more rational planning.

MYTH: Veterans health care should be privatized because the system is too big, inefficient, and unresponsive to veterans.

REALITY: VA patients are often elderly, have multiple disabilities, and are chronically ill. They are generally unattractive to the private sector. Also, such patients pose too great an underwriting risk for private insurers and health maintenance or preferred provider organizations. While private sector hospitals have lower administrative costs and operate with profit motives, a number of studies have shown that VA provides high quality care and is more cost-effective care than comparable private sector health care. VA provides a wide range of specialized services, including spinal cord injury and dysfunction care, blind rehabilitation, prosthetics, advanced rehabilitation, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health, and long-term care. These are at the very heart of VA’s mission. Additionally, VA supplies one-third of all care provided for the chronically mentally ill, and is the largest single source of care for patients with AIDS. Without VA, millions of veterans would be forced to rely on Medicare and Medicaid at substantially greater federal and state expense.

MYTH: Under a mandatory funding program, VA would no longer have an incentive to find efficiencies and to supplement its appropriation with third-party collections.

REALITY: Mandatory funding will provide sufficient resources to ensure high quality health care services when veterans need it. It is not intended to provide excess funding for veterans health care. VA Central Office (VACO) would still be responsible for ensuring local managers are using funds appropriately and efficiently. Network and medical center directors and others would still be required to meet performance standards and third-party collections goals. These checks and balances will help ensure accountability.



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