Congress should be fiscally prudent with VA funding

In The Hill, Heritage’s Romina Boccia warns Congress not to make things worse at the Department of Veterans Affairs:

Part of the increase in cost would stem from more veterans enrolling in the VA system over time. The CBO estimates that there are about 8 million additional veterans who would qualify for veterans’ healthcare, but that are not participating in the current system. They are relying on Medicare, Medicaid, the military healthcare system, and private healthcare instead. The CBO estimates that at least one quarter of these veterans could be induced to enroll in the proposed system.

Moreover, the CBO assumes that today’s VA costs only cover about 30 percent of the healthcare received by the 8.4 million enrolled veterans. Those veterans are also expected to increase their use of VA healthcare by about 75 percent.

Although Congress’s current approach would only expand veterans’ access to private-sector care for two years, Congress may face pressure to extend the law’s provisions beyond that time horizon. The CBO also stresses that its estimates are preliminary. Much uncertainty remains over the effects Congress’s provisions would have.

The Heritage Foundation previously recommended that the VA should focus on the unique needs of military medicine. A recent Congressional Research Service fact sheet revealed that more than one out of every 10 VA patients is not a veteran, and the number of non-veterans using the VA’s healthcare services has increased faster in recent years than has the number of veteran patients. Scarce VA healthcare should first and foremost focus on deserving veterans.

Read the entire piece here.

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Sanders’ Veteran Bill Asphyxiates the VA System

Most Americans would agree that those who have sacrificed in service of this nation deserve the care and gratitude of their government. The importance of quality veteran care is undeniable, but members of Congress must be careful not to simply support any measure with the word “veteran” in the title.

This week, the Senate is likely to consider S.1982, an omnibus veterans bill sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  As a veteran who uses the Veteran’s Administration hospitals for service-related injuries, I measured the projected benefits of the Senate bill against the projected costs. In doing so it became clear to me that S.1982 does very little to improve services to our veterans; indeed, it actually may make things worse in some of the most vital programs, adding roughly $20 billion in new debt along the way.

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Email Your Senators to Oppose the Veterans Omnibus Bill (S. 1982)

On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to vote to open debate on the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014 (S. 1982). While seemingly well-intentioned, the bill will only increase the issues the Veterans Affairs (VA) system already faces.

The $24 billion package would create at least 15 new government programs and would extend VA services to all veterans, even if their injuries are not related to their service.  This increased eligibility would prevent those truly in need from obtaining the assistance they need through the VA.

The VA system already suffers a backlog of thousands of unattended claims.  Adding new claims and programs to the already overburdened system would only make the program more inefficient and prevent real reform from occurring.

Use POPVOX to send the message to your Senators that the Veterans Omnibus bill (S. 1982) should be opposed.

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Inside the Senate

This week, the Senate will take up the House-passed bill to repeal the 3% withholding requirement for government contractors. The bill passed in the House 405-16 (the 16 detractors were all Democrats). A separate, paid-for, bill was passed by a narrower margin (262-157) and would scale back Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid.

In a rare showing of bipartisanship, the White House supports the repeal bill, which was part of the President’s jobs bill, and the paid-for, although it is unclear whether Senate Democrats will vote for the “paid-for” bill, seeing as how it doesn’t raise taxes.

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