The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee cleared several bills that will improve access to healthcare and shield veterans from any budget or shutdown uncertainly that may occur in the future. The senate version of The Putting Veterans Funding First Act (S. 932) was cleared and sent for consideration on November 19th. The bill will fund all VA programs a year in advance.
Currently, only VA medical care accounts are provided an advance appropriation. The House cleared a similar bill (H.R. 913) in August which calls for advance funding beginning with the 2016 budget. The House version currently has a 74% chance of being enacted. The Senate’s version currently has 40% chance of being enacted.
- Veterans Health Administration Medical Services
- Medical Support and Compliance
- Medical Facilities
- Medical Research and Support
- National Cemetery Administration
- Veterans Benefits Administration
- Native American Veteran Housing Loan Program
- Authorizes the provision of advance appropriations for the following VA discretionary administration accounts: (1) general operating expenses, (2) information technology systems, (3) the Office of the Inspector General, (4) construction for major and minor projects, and (5) grants for the construction of state extended care facilities and veterans cemeteries.
Other bills cleared by the Senate include:
- Expands the period of eligibility to enroll in VA healthcare for Post 9/11 combat veterans to include Guard and Reserves from 5 to 10 years. It also simplifies VA method in determining eligibility based on income thus allowing more veterans to enroll in VA.
- Extends protections for service members with regards to sales contracts, mortgage penalties and provides further improvements under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or SCRA. All of the bills now move to the Senate floor for debate.