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FY 2012 Budget Includes Advance Appropriations

Reprinted from PN April 2011

The co-authors of The Independent Budget are pleased the President’s proposed budget has given veterans an overall increase—even though it does not meet IB’s recommendations.

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On February 14, 2011, the President released his Budget Request for FY 2012. In light of the country’s current fiscal circumstances, the co-authors of The Independent Budget (IB)—AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFS)—are pleased the President’s proposed budget has given veterans an overall increase—even though it does not meet IB’s recommendations. However, concerns exist regarding some of the proposed de­creases in spending, particularly for Medical and Prosthetic Research, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and Major Construction.

The President’s budget for FY 2012 provides approximately $61.9 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs ( VA), approximately $1.7 billion more than the projected FY 2011 provided by H.R. 1, the Continuing Resolution for FY 2011. The administration’s budget includes approximately $53.9 billion for medical-care programs for FY 2011, an increase of $2.3 billion over the FY 2011 appropriated level. IB recommended approximately $55 billion

for medical-care programs. More importantly, the Budget Request also in­cludes advance appropriations recommendations for FY 2013. The President’s budget has $55.8 billion for medical-care programs for FY 2013.

Will VA Have Enough?

Of particular concern to IB is an ill-defined contingency fund that would provide $953 million more for Medical Services for FY 2012. A special concern is that VA presumes “management improvements” (a gimmick commonly used during previous administrations) of approximately $1.1 billion to be directed toward FY 2012 and FY 2013. VA has explained these “management improvements” provide $1.1 billion that VA would like to carry over; and yet, if the department is not authorized to carry over this additional money, its FY 2012 budget request and FY 2013 advance appropriations request will be insufficient to meet the healthcare demand of veterans it serves.

IB also has real concerns about the revised estimates in Medical Care Collections from the originally projected (in last year’s advance appropriations recommendation) $3.7 billion to now only $3.1 billion for FY 2012. Given this revision in estimates, the VA budget request may arguably be short $600 million in budget authority for next year.

A Decrease for Research?

IB is also concerned about the significant decrease in funding projected for Medical and Prosthetic Research. The administration recommends $509 million, approximately $111 million less than the IB recommendation and $72 million less than the FY 2011 appropriated level. Research is a vital part of veterans’ healthcare, and an essential mission for our national healthcare system.

IB is particularly concerned with the President’s budget request for VBA. For FY 2012, the administration recommends $2.02 billion, a decrease of $129 million below the projected FY 2011 appropriated level. Given the growing pressure on the VA claims process, the rapidly increasing claims backlog, and demand for new benefits, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, we cannot understand the justification for a decrease in spending for VBA.

The administration recommends $590 million for major construction, more than $1.6 billion less than proposed by IB. With VA facing a massive backlog of important construction requirements and states becoming ever more reliant on VA to contribute to the funding for construction of long-term-care facilities, now is not the time to be reducing this critical funding.

 

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FY 2012 Budget Includes Advance Appropriations

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