Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee and the author of legislation to make veterans' health care a mandatory spending item within the federal budget, today praised the introduction of a new bill that attempts to end the longstanding delay in annual health care funding for our nation's veterans.
"The current 20th century approach to the way Congress appropriates veterans health care funding is simply unacceptable," Hare said. "The men and women who risked their lives for our nation deserve to receive their benefits in a sufficient, timely, and predictable fashion."
The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform Act, of which Hare is an original co-sponsor, would authorize advance appropriations for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care programs one year in advance of the start of the fiscal year. In other words, VA health care would have a one year advantage over other discretionary programs.
Hare is the author of the Assured Funding for Veterans Health Care Acta bill to make VA health care a mandatory spending item within the federal budget like Social Security or Medicare. It has 126 co-sponsors but has not seen action in the House. Hare played a major role in developing this compromise.
"I believe assured funding should be the law of the land," Hare said. "But I also want a bill that can move quickly through the process. The goal is to help our veteransno matter what the legislative vehicle."
Disabled American Veterans Executive Director David W. Gorman praised Hare and the other sponsors of the veterans' health care funding reform bill. "Assuring a long-term, reliable funding system to provide our nation's veterans with the health care they have earned is a top priority for the veterans community and the American public," Gorman said. "We are grateful for the leadership Phil Hare has demonstrated on behalf of veterans, especially disabled veterans, since he arrived in Congress. We will be working with him, Chairman Filner and others to finally pass and enact veterans' health care funding reform."
Hare called advanced appropriations a good first step to ensure the sufficient, timely, and predictable delivery of veterans health care funding. "17 out of the last 19 VA budgets have been late," Hare said. "Our veterans deserve better. With a one year advantage, Congress will no longer have any excuses."