Obama proposed an 11 percent increase in the Department of Veterans Affairs budget, following through on a campaign pledge to expand veterans' access to health care.
The proposed budget would expand eligibility for VA health care to non-disabled veterans earning modest incomes. The plan is estimated to bring more than 500,000 underserved veterans into the system by 2013, although veterans advocates say about 1.8 million veterans currently lack health insurance.
The budget would provide additional funding for programs that help returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. Other extra funding would help upgrade the VA information technology system to enhance electronic medical records and more quickly process disability claims; expand services to homeless veterans; and better implement the new GI bill.
The administration budgeted about $1 billion more to VA than even veterans advocacy groups wanted.