The House Appropriations Committee has approved a bill that would fund Veterans Affairs Department healthcare services through fiscal 2008 at $37.1 billion, a full $2.5 billion more than the Bush administrations request and $4.4 billion more than last year.
The bill earmarks $600 million for new initiatives for mental health and for improved treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, including five Level I polytrauma centers and three centers of excellence for mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder. Such facilities treat the most common injuries faced by the U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, including traumatic brain injury.
The bill would also fund $4.1 billion for the continued maintenance and renovations to existing facilities. The VA currently estimates a maintenance backlog of more than $5 billion. Additionally, the bill would give the department $1.9 billion to improve its health records system to help ensure that medical information follows patients as they transition from active duty to the VA health system. -- by Matthew DoBias