More veterans would get more options for the care and benefits they earned and need, under the Trump administration’s proposed $198.6-billion 2019 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The request, which was sent to Congress Feb. 12, represents an increase of $12.1 billion more than the previous year.
It includes $76.5 billion for health care delivery, with the intent of expanding s services. Additionally, nine million more veterans would have the chance to take part in the choice option, which allows them to use private providers when it would be quicker or more convenient than waiting for appointments at VA facilities.
Other provisions include:
* $1.8 billion to support VA programs for homeless and at-risk veterans.
* $382 million for pain management and opioid treatment.
* $511 for gender-specific healthcare for female veterans, plus another $510 million for caregivers’ benefits.
* $727 million for medical and prosthetic research.
* $8.6 billion for mental-health, suicide-prevention, and post-traumatic stress disorder mitigation services. This provision includes recent efforts to extend services to at-risk veterans who left the service with other than honorable discharges.
* $2.9 billion for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), to manage VA’s disability compensation, home-loan guarantee, education, and other related programs.
* $1.2 billion to continue the effort to modernize health record management. This includes the plan to foster a seamless records system between VA and the Defense Department.
* $1.8 billion for construction projects.
* $315.8 million to administer the VA’s 139 national cemeteries, including the construction of nine new cemeteries slated to open in 2019 and 2020.
* $172.1 million for the Office of the Inspector General, to enhance oversight of VA operations.