Armed Forces News

Minneapolis VA Medical Center

Veterans could continue to see greater access to health care outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs system, under a key provision of the Trump administration’s $243 billion budget request for fiscal year 2021.

That figure represents a 13 percent increase in discretionary spending and would make the VA the second-highest federal agency by that measure behind DoD and ahead of Education and HHS. The latter would receive a 9 percent cut. The biggest proposed cuts are to the Departments of Commerce (-37%) and the Department of Education (-27%).

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“The Budget provides $90.0 billion, a 12.7-percent increase above the 2020 enacted level, including funding to continue the integration of the expanded VA MISSION Act of 2018 requirements, providing greater choice for many veterans regarding their healthcare decisions,” according to White House budget documents. Under the MISSION Act, the VA launched a new Veterans Community Care Program (formerly VA Choice) last June to provide more choice in meeting healthcare needs. The VA says that over 5,000 veterans per week are accessing new urgent care benefits provided through the MISSION Act.

The Budget also includes $1.2 billion for the expansion of the Caregivers program, which provides stipend payments to eligible veterans.

The request would provide resources to support expansion of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family to eligible Veterans seriously injured in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975.

The request also includes $133.8 in mandatory funding – which covers benefits programs, pensions, housing and insurance.

The proposed VA budget also includes:

* $10.2 billion for mental-health services. About $313 million of this would go directly toward suicide-prevention programs.
* $626 million for women’s health. It addresses gynecology, primary care services, and other related areas.
* $2.6 billion for electronic modernization of health records.
* $360 million for the National Cemetery System.

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