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June 12, 2006
This week the House of Representatives is scheduled to take up legislation funding the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for FY 2008. The bill, known as the Military Construction-VA Appropriations bill contains an overall amount of $37.1 billion for the Veterans Health Administration, $2.5 billion above the President’s request and $4.4 billion above the current FY 2007 level. Out of this total, $28.9 billion is allocated for direct medical services in the VA ($1.7 billion more than the President’s request and $3.4 billion above current levels).
The legislation also directs the VA to ensure that no less than $2.9 billion be set aside for health care programs for mental illness. This matches the President’s request and is $100 million above current levels. Language is specifically included barring the VA from decreasing inpatient psychiatric beds at facilities that have waiting lists for such services. The bill also includes $600 million in new funding for mental health and PTSD, including the establishment of 5 Level 1 Polytrauma Centers and 3 new Centers for Excellence on PTSD. In addition, $429 million is set aside for substance abuse treatment in the VA, $70 million above the amount requested by the Bush Administration, and $72 million more than this year.
Finally, the bill allocates $130 million for assistance to homeless veterans, $23 million more than the Bush Administration requested, and $38 million more than FY 2007. This includes funding for grants and per diem sufficient to serve an additional 2,300 homeless veterans.
Click here for a full summary of the legislation (PDF, opens in a new window).
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