Published by Leo Shane III
(Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images)
Veterans Affairs programs would see a 20% increase in funding under the White House budget plan for fiscal 2023 released on Monday, pushing the department’s spending total above $300 billion for the first time.
The department has seen steady increases annually as multiple administrations have sought to increase medical care and support services for veterans.
Even with that history, however, the fiscal 2023 request represents a major new influx of money for the department, already one of the most expensive in the federal government. Only the Departments of Defense ($773 billion) and Health and Human Services ($138 billion) would see more discretionary funding in the plan than VA ($135 billion).
In 2001, the entire VA budget — including both discretionary program spending and mandatory benefits payouts — amounted to about $45 billion. The 2023 White House budget request is three times that just for the program spending, not including the mandatory section of the department’s budget.
Lawmakers will spend the next several months debating and dissecting the White House spending outline, likely making numerous changes before a final compromise budget is reached.
But the plan represents a starting point for those debates, and lawmakers in recent years have only added to White House requests for VA spending, not reduced them.
In the budget request, administration officials said the plan “honors the nation’s sacred obligation to veterans by investing in world-class healthcare … and enhancing veterans’ general well-being.”
The plan includes large increases in outpatient care services ($29.6 billion, up 32%), mental health care programs ($8.5 billion, up 15%), prosthetics care ($4 billion, up 8%) and caregivers support stipends ($1.8 billion, up 35%).
The caregivers’ program has been a source of contention in recent months, as VA officials have been reviewing longtime participants to ensure they meet updated eligibility guidelines. Last week, officials announced they would pause all dismissals from the program amid concerns that the changes were affecting too many families....
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