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Before the Committee on Veterans Affairs United States Senate Regarding The Department of Veterans’ Affairs Fiscal Year ‘09 Budget Request

February 13, 2008

I want to thank you for recognizing that caring for those who have donned the uniform in our name is part of the continuing cost of the national defense.  Caring for veterans, the essential role of the VA and, for specific services other federal entities such as the Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services, must be a national priority.  This is poignantly clear when we visit the combat-wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

VVA wishes to note at the outset that the annual exercise of debating the merits of the President’s proposed budget is flawed.  Medical Center directors should not have to be held in limbo as Congress reworks and adjusts this budget and perhaps misses, yet again, the start of the next federal fiscal year.  These public servants can be more effective, more efficient, and better managers of the public trust if they can properly plan for the funding they need to carry out their mission of caring for their patients. We hope that this can be avoided this year and ask that you seriously consider an immediate alternative to the broken system we currently have and reaching our goal of assured funding.

To rectify this situation, VVA and the other members of The Partnership for Veterans’ Health Care Budget Reform are developing a proposal that would give the VA leeway its managers need to properly plan for the requisites of their patient load.  We will have more for you as this proposal is tightened up.

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