The legislation would allow Congress to approve the money for veterans’ medical care one year in advance. In so doing, it would separate veterans’ health care financing from the crush of appropriations and political horse-trading that take place at year’s end.
The so-called advanced appropriation is already used to ensure the timely delivery of money to other programs, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Housing and Urban Development vouchers for low-income renters.
The effort is being spearheaded by the chairmen of the Veterans’ Affairs Committees in the House and Senate. They say the long delays in getting the money for health care to the Department of Veterans Affairs is untenable in a time of war.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs operates the largest health care system in the nation, but its funding is untimely and unpredictable,” said Senator Daniel K. Akaka, the Hawaii Democrat who is chairman of the Senate veterans committee.
“Unlike Medicare and Medicaid,” Mr. Akaka said, “V.A. never knows what its level of funding will be for the next year. V.A. health care providers are tied down by uncertainty. This situation is bad for taxpayers, bad for V.A. and bad for veterans.”