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VA Needs a 20% Budget Boost to Cover Coming Surge of Medical Costs, Veterans Groups Say

Published by Patricia Kime

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Department of Veterans Affairs will need at least $23 billion more than the Biden administration has requested for next year's budget to meet growing demand for health care and services, according to a report released Monday by several large veterans' organizations.

Most of the increase would go to health care provided by the VA and civilian providers to cover the cost of care deferred during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many patients delaying treatment or doctors' visits because of the pandemic, the report anticipates a surge of more complicated and expensive medical care as patients return to routine medical appointments.

The report, known as the Independent Budget, calls for a 20% increase in the VA's discretionary spending for fiscal 2023 -- funding that doesn't include mandatory obligations such as pensions and disability compensation -- over the administration's 2022 proposal, which has yet to be finalized by Congress.

The document calls for the VA's total discretionary budget to $140 billion, up from a proposed $117 billion.

"As we enter into 2022, COVID's impact remains a challenge for VA, with the spread of the virus and disruptions to health care systems continuing," Randy Reese, executive director of DAV Washington Headquarters, said in a press release.

"In this environment, we made cautious recommendations based on historical trends to ensure the needs of our nation's ill and injured veterans are met," he said.

The Independent Budget is crafted each year by Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars to advise....

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