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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Veterans’ Medical Care: FY2013 Appropriations

Sidath Viranga Panangala
Specialist in Veterans Policy

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits to veterans range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. The VA provides these benefits through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA).

This report focuses on the VHA. The VHA is primarily a direct service provider of primary care, specialized care, and related medical and social support services to veterans through the nation’s largest integrated health care system. Veterans generally must enroll in the VA health care system to receive medical care. Eligibility for enrollment is based primarily on previous military service, disability, and income. VA provides free inpatient and outpatient medical care to veterans for service-connected conditions and to low-income veterans for nonservice-connected conditions.

The President’s budget request was submitted to Congress on February 13, 2012. The President’s budget is requesting $135.6 billion in budget authority for the VA as a whole. This includes approximately $75 billion in mandatory funding and $61 billion in discretionary funding. For FY2013, the Administration requests $53.3 billion for VHA. This includes $41.5 billion for the medical services account, $5.7 billion for the medical support and compliance account, $5.4 billion for the medical facilities account, and nearly $583 million for the medical and prosthetic research account. The total request for VHA represents a 4.1% increase over the FY2012-enacted appropriations. Furthermore, as required by the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-81), the President’s budget is requesting $54.2 billion in advance appropriations for the three medical care accounts (medical services, medical support and compliance, and medical facilities) for FY2014.

Congress did not enact a regular Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for FY2013 (MILCON-VA Appropriations bill) prior to the beginning of FY2013, and funded most of the VA (excluding the three medical care accounts: medical services, medical support and compliance, and medical facilities) through a six-month government-wide continuing resolution (P.L. 112-175), which is scheduled to expire on March 27, 2013.

On March 6, 2013, the House passed the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (H.R. 933). Division B of this Act contained the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The House-passed measure provides a total of $133.9 billion for VA, and within that amount provides a total of $53.3 billion for VHA. Furthermore, as required by the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-81), the Housepassed bill provides $54.5 billion in advance appropriations for the three medical care accounts (medical services, medical support and compliance, and medical facilities) for FY2014.

Date of Report: March 18, 2013
Number of Pages: 29
Order Number: R42518
Price: $29.95

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