WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, issued the following statement today in response to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which found that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is under-projecting the increase in funding and staff it will need to provide veterans with adequate long-term care in the coming years:
"GAO has found yet another example of VA providing incomplete and inaccurate estimates of veterans' needs. This investigation is timely, with the Obama Administration now developing a budget for veterans' health care and other services. I hope that Secretary Shinseki will direct his Department to make the necessary corrections in time for VA to give an accurate assessment of its long-term care needs, and that he will make it a priority to improve the Department's overall budget and planning process.
"Members of Congress, the President, and Secretary Shinseki have called for veterans' health care to be funded one-year in advance of the regular budget process. For this to work, projections of veterans' health care needs must be accurate," said Akaka.
Last year, Chairman Akaka introduced S. 3527, the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform Act of 2008, to provide advance funding for VA, and require the Comptroller General to conduct a study on the adequacy and accuracy of VA health care projections. Currently, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is funded one-year at a time, and is too often the victim of delays and short-term budgets.
January 23, 2009