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Veterans' Medical Care: FY2007 Appropriations

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Publication Date: May 2006

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL33409

Topic: Health (Health care financing)
Military and defense (Veterans)

Abstract:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility rules. Benefits to veterans range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. VA provides these benefits to veterans through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). VHA is primarily a direct service provider of primary care, specialized care, and related medical and social support services to veterans through an integrated health care system.

The President's FY2007 budget proposal to Congress requested $32.7 billion for VHA, an 11.3% increase over the FY2006 enacted amount of $29.3 billion, and a 10% increase over the FY2005 enacted amount of $29.7 billion. As in previous budget proposals, the President's FY2007 budget request also includes a set of legislative proposals. The Administration is requesting authorization from Congress to assess an annual enrollment fee of $250 for all Priority 7 and 8 veterans, increase veterans' share of pharmaceutical copayments from $8 to $15 (for each 30-day prescription) for all enrolled veterans in Priority Groups 7 and 8, and bill veterans receiving treatment for nonservice-connected conditions for the entire copayment amount.

On March 9, 2006, the Senate Budget Committee marked up the FY2007 Concurrent Resolution on the Budget (S.Con.Res. 83), and the Senate passed it on March 16. In total, S.Con.Res. 83 calls for $74.8 billion for VA programs for FY2007. This includes approximately $37.0 billion for VA's discretionary programs, which consist mainly of VA medical care, and $37.8 billion for VA's mandatory programs. On March 31, 2006, the House Budget Committee reported its version of the FY2007 Concurrent Resolution on the Budget (H.Con.Res. 376, H.Rept. 109-402), and the House adopted it on May 18. In total, H.Con.Res. 376 calls for $74.6 billion for VA programs for FY2007. This includes $36.9 billion for VA's discretionary programs, and $37.8 billion for VA's mandatory programs.

On May 19, 2006, the House passed the Military Construction, Military Quality of Life, and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for FY2007 (H.R. 5385, H.Rept. 109-464). H.R. 5385 provides $32.7 billion for VHA for FY2007, an 11.4% increase over the FY2006 enacted amount. H.R. 5385 does not include any provisions that would give VA the authority to implement fee increases as requested by the President's FY2007 budget proposal.

This report tracks the VHA's FY2007 appropriations process, and will be updated as legislative events warrant.