April 10, 2013, 08:00:00 AM
WASHINGTON – Continuing the transformation of the Department of Veterans Affairs into a 21st century organization, the President has proposed a $152.7 billion budget, a 10.2 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2013, that will support VA’s goals to expand access to health care and other benefits, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and end homelessness among Veterans. The budget includes $66.5 billion in discretionary spending, largely for healthcare, and $86.1 billion for mandatory programs – mostly disability compensation and pensions for Veterans.
“This budget will have a positive impact on the lives of Veterans, their families and survivors for generations to come,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The President believes in Veterans and their families and believes in providing them the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”
The $66.5 billion total in discretionary spending includes approximately $3.1 billion in collections from health insurers and Veteran copayments in addition to the $63.5 billion in discretionary funding announced last week.
“VA’s commitment to Veterans spans generations,” Shinseki added. “From the men and women of ‘the greatest generation’ to the Veterans who have returned from Iraq and those returning from Afghanistan, VA will make sure our benefits are useful and accessible.”
VA operates the largest integrated health care system in the country with nearly 9 million enrollees; the eighth largest life insurance program; monthly disability pay, pensions and survivors payments to more than 4 million people; education assistance to 1 million students; mortgage guarantees to 1.5 million homeowners; and the largest cemetery system in the nation.
Here are highlights from the President’s 2014 budget request for VA.
With a medical care budget of $54.6 billion, VA is positioned to provide care to 6.5 million Veterans in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The patient total includes 675,000 people whose military service began after Sept. 11, 2001.
Major spending categories within the health care budget are:
The President’s proposed budget would ensure that care and other benefits are available to Veterans when and where they need them. Among the programs that will expand access under the proposed budget are:
Eliminating Claims Backlog
The President’s proposed budget provides for full implementation of VA’s robust Transformation Plan -- a series of people, process and technology initiatives -- in FY14. This plan will systematically reduce the backlog and reach Shinseki’s 2015 goal - to eliminate the claims backlog and process all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy.
Major transformation initiatives in the budget proposal invest $291 million to bring leading-edge technology to the claims backlog, including:
Eliminating Veterans Homelessness
A major strategic goal for the Department is to end homelessness among Veterans in 2015. The budget request targets $1.4 billion for programs to prevent or reduce homelessness, which includes:
Veterans Job Corps
Too many Veterans take off their uniforms only to join the ranks of the unemployed. In March, 2013, about 783,000 Veterans were unemployed, a figure that includes 207,000 unemployed Post-9/11 Veterans.
This budget proposes a Veterans Job Corps, focused on investing in Veterans’ skills and experience, putting tens of thousands of Veterans into civilian jobs. Budget features of this initiative include:
Other Services for Veterans
Other features of the administration’s FY 2014 budget request for the department are:
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