WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, chaired by Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), approved comprehensive legislation to better enable the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide for the needs of veterans and their families. The bills approved today will help veterans in rural areas receive better health care, establish a permanent program to support veterans’ caregivers, and secure timely and transparent funding for VA’s health care system through advance appropriations.
“These significant and far-reaching bills will enhance VA’s ability to furnish veterans with the quality health care and benefits that they have earned through their service to this country. I am pleased that we have bipartisan support on these issues, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to secure enactment of these bills,” said Akaka.
For Chairman Akaka’s full opening statement, click here. The legislation ordered reported out of committee included the following bills:
S. 252, the Veterans Health Care Authorization Act of 2009:
• Enables VA to recruit and retain high quality health care professionals by improving pay, benefits, scholarship programs, and work schedules;
• Enhances VA’s ability to provide institutional and non-institutional care, rehabilitative care for OEF/OIF veterans, mental health services, and other programs;
• Creates pilot programs to provide outreach and assistance to returning servicemembers in their communities and help prevent homelessness; and
• Improves VA’s overall research program.
S. 423, the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009:
• Secures timely and predictable funding for the VA health care system one-year ahead of the regular appropriations process; and
• Ensures transparency in the funding process by requiring public reports and GAO audits on VA’s funding forecasting.
S. 728, the Veterans’ Benefits Enhancement Act of 2009:
• Strengthens insurance programs for disabled veterans and expands eligibility for traumatic injury protection;
• Eases the burden on certain combat veterans who seek to establish that their disabilities are related to their service; and
• Strengthens laws protecting veterans and servicemembers from employment discrimination.
S. 801, the Caregiver and Veterans Health Services Act of 2009:
• Establishes an unprecedented permanent program to train, support, and assist the caregivers of disabled veterans;
• Improves care and treatment for veterans living in rural areas; and
• Enables VA to reimburse eligible veterans for emergency treatment outside of the VA health care system if their insurance only covers part of the cost of that care.
The bills approved today will be reported to the full Senate for consideration. For a copy of the markup agenda, visit the Committee’s website by clicking here.
May 21, 2009