In This Issue:
1. Third-Party Collection Proposal a Reality
2. VFW Testifies on FY 2010 VA Budget
3. House Small Business Hearing
4. VA Celebrates 20th Birthday Sunday
1. Third-Party Collection Proposal a Reality: VA Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed in House and Senate VA Committee testimony Tuesday that the Administration's FY 2010 VA budget is considering a proposal to bill veterans with private insurance for their service-connected disability treatments. Although some committee members questioned the proposal, only three voiced their outright objections to it: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking minority member Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), and Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME). VFW joins them in adamantly opposing any attempt to pass healthcare costs on to wounded and service-connected disabled veterans. Billing a veteran's private insurance could lead to higher premiums and make it difficult for veterans and their families to obtain or retain their health insurance, as well as discourage employers from hiring disabled vets. The VFW is asking all of its members as well as all Americans to contact the White House and their congressional delegations to urge them to stop this budget proposal.
To send a message to the White House, go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
To send a message to your members of Congress, go to: http://capwiz.com/vfw/issues/alert/?alertid=12844211
To read the VFW press release, go to: http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=4952
2. VFW Testifies on FY 2010 VA Budget: VFW presented testimony this week before both House and Senate VA Committees. Testifying as a part of an Independent Budget panel, we reminded Congress that the recommendations found in the IB captures the full picture of what VA needs to provide for all veterans. We urged Congress to provide $3.6 billion over last year's budget to adequately meet all veterans' healthcare and benefit needs, and urged them to pass advanced funding legislation to provide sufficient, timely and predictable healthcare for veterans. As part of the IB, the VFW is responsible for the construction portion of the budget, so the majority of our testimony centered on VA's major and minor construction projects. We thanked Congress for making significant inroads in funding construction during the last few cycles, but relayed our concerns that much more is needed to complete the numerous projects currently under construction and that are planned for the coming year.
For more on the House hearing, go to: http://veterans.house.gov/
For more on the Senate hearing, go to: http://veterans.senate.gov/public/
For read the IB online, go to: http://www.independentbudget.org/
3. House Small Business Hearing: VFW testified before the House Small Business Committee yesterday to ensure that the highest attention is being paid to veteran-owned small businesses during this time of economic struggle. VFW testified that it is critical to increase the number of federal contracts awarded from the recently signed stimulus package to veteran entrepreneurs' and veteran small-business owners. The number of unemployed veterans increased to about one million, as of February 2009, and is statistically higher among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. VFW believes providing veterans with the financial tools to succeed in their own businesses, and demanding compliance of the 3% set-aside laws for federal contracting, would go a long way toward alleviating unemployment among veterans.
For more on the House Small Business hearing, go to:http://www.house.gov/smbiz/hearings/hearing-3-12-09-stimulus-contracting/hearing-witnesses-food-recalls.htm
To view it on YouTube, go to: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=0AE3152F853E0A4F
4. VA Celebrates 20th Birthday Sunday: President Reagan signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-527), elevating VA to a Cabinet-level agency effective March 15, 1989. VA is the second-largest of the 15 Cabinet departments, and is responsible for serving 23.4 million living U.S. veterans. VA operates more than 1,400 facilities, including medical centers, clinics, nursing homes, Vet Centers, regional offices and national cemeteries, with a staff of almost 280,000 and a budget that exceeds $90 billion.