$60B VA Budget Includes Goals for Better Care

The $60.3 billion, which does not include funding for veterans benefits, would be up from $56.1 billion in the 2010 budget.

White House officials said the $60.3 billion would represent a 20 percent total increase in veterans programs since 2009.

Some of the goals outlined in the budget documents:

• By June 2012, VA will reduce the homeless veterans population to 59,000.

• By December 2010, VA will deploy an automated GI Bill claims processing system that, by the end of 2011, will reduce the number of days to process a benefits claim to 18. It took on average of 47 days to process claims last fall. The 2011 budget request contains more than $200 million to improve accuracy and timeless of benefits claims.

• By the end of 2010, 97 percent of VA patients will be screened at regular intervals for alcohol abuse and 96 percent will be screened for depression.

• By the end of 2011, 96 percent of mental health patients will get a mental health evaluation within 15 days of asking, and 97 percent of eligible patients will be screened for post-traumatic stress. The budget requests $5.2 billion for specialized care of veterans with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries and other mental health conditions.

• By 2012, an electronic medical and benefits record system, combining military and VA information, will be available for new veterans. The budget request includes $52 million to implement the system, called the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record.

• By 2013, more than 500,000 moderate-income veterans will be enrolled in the VA health care system.

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