VA Budget Reform Overdue:

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee’s hearing July 26 focused on health care funding—a “comprehensive discussion” about funding methods and “opinions on the current state of financial affairs at VA,” according a committee statement. Princeton health economist Uwe Reinhardt explained that the VA’s rate of spending growth has been the lowest overall in a decade when compared with Medicare, the private health industry, and total national spending on health, despite the fact that the VA had to handle thousands of veterans physically and mentally traumatized by war. As the US spends more on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he noted, the more expensive it will get for VA to care for the returning service members. “The time has come for real change in how VA is funded, because we owe that to the men and women we are sending overseas, into battle,” said Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), adding, “Today’s hearing made the case for the need for true VA budget reform.”