Thursday, December 17, 2015

$163 billion appropriated for VA operations

Budget deal nails down fiscal 2016 spending for DoD, VA
Military Times
By Leo Shane III, Staff writer
December 16, 2015
(Cutting right to where the VA comes in)
The $163 billion appropriated for VA operations in fiscal 2016 includes $71.4 billion in discretionary funding, an almost 10 percent jump in that account from fiscal 2015 levels.

The total includes $7.5 billion for mental health care operations, $4.9 billion to cover medical costs of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, $4.7 billion for female-specific health care programs, and $7.5 billion for institutional and other long-term support of aging veterans.

Lawmakers matched the VA's request for $1.4 billion to support efforts to help homeless veterans, to continue efforts to reduce the number of vets living on the streets.

They also added $1.5 billion to the White House budget request for new Hepatitis-C medications, treatments that have proven to be lifesaving for VA patients but significantly more costly than officials predicted earlier this year.

The bill contains almost $700 million in additional funds related to the VA's first-time disability claims backlog, which has fallen from about 612,000 cases in spring 2013 to fewer than 78,000 claims this month. But lawmakers say the money is needed to help eliminate the backlog and ensure similar problems don’t surface again.

On construction, the bill includes $1.24 billion for major projects and $406 million for minor projects, matching department requests after months of lawmaker complaints about mismanagement and waste in the construction programs.

House and Senate leaders are hopeful the measure can be finalized before Christmas, possibly as early as this weekend.
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More of the same on mental health since they are not changing anything.  The OEF and OIF veterans extra spending is for the 5 years they get free care even without a claim. Things to be happy about are the additional funding for female veterans which has been disgracefully late, more funding for homeless veterans and Hep C treatments.  As for the claims, we've been on this rollercoaster ride before.

Deal avoids shutdown, but not everyone is happy
CNN
By Deirdre Walsh and Ted Barrett
December 16, 2015

Washington (CNN)House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican lawmakers Tuesday that congressional leaders reached an agreement on a massive $1.1 trillion bill to fund the government through September, setting up votes later this week that would avert a shutdown, according to multiple lawmakers who attended a closed door session with the speaker.

The deal would suspend two major Obamacare taxes, lift the ban on crude oil exports, reauthorize a health insurance program for 9/11 first responders, as well as include cybersecurity legislation and overhaul the visa waiver program, barring anyone who had visited Syria, Iraq and other possible terrorist hotspots in the last five years from entering the U.S. without a visa.

Leaders also struck an accord on a broad package of tax breaks worth about $600 billion, which makes permanent several key provisions for businesses related to research and development and expensing.
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