Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly attended a ceremony at the White House to watch the president sign into law The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009. The legislation allows Congress to allocate funds one year in advance for veterans' medical programs in order to prevent a gap if Congress does not approve the traditional budget by the start of the fiscal year. With this advance appropriation, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has up to one year in which to plan how to deliver the most efficient and effective care to veterans. Donnelly, a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, was a cosponsor of the legislation, which passed in the House on October 8.
"This legislation will ensure that our veterans are provided with comprehensive and timely healthcare even if Congress fails to pass a budget on time--as has been the case 20 out of the past 23 years," Donnelly said. "We are taking another step to ensure more dependable and accessible care for America's veterans, which has been a priority of mine since taking office. I thank the many veterans service organizations for working so closely with us to get this landmark legislation passed."
Each July, the VA will be required to report to Congress if it has the resources it needs for the upcoming fiscal year in order for Congress to address any funding imbalances. This will help to safeguard against the VA's health programs facing uncertainty related to delays in the passage of congressional funds.