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  • Washington Highlights

    VA Secretary Testifies on FY24 Appropriations, Notes Impacts of Potential Cuts


    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations

    Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, VA, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) on April 26 regarding the administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget request.  

    As in previous years, the Biden administration requested to create a new discretionary category outside of the traditional defense and nondefense categories, this year for the $121 billion requested for VA medical care accounts in FY 2024. Full committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) noted her support for the proposal. 

    “Anything other than a regular appropriations process will have negative impacts across the VA and will hurt veterans back in our states who need to get their claims processed, benefit for medical and prosthetic research and get care related to their toxic exposure,” Murray stated. The AAMC joined the association-led Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research in recommending $980 million for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research program in FY 2024. 

    Murray and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.) both noted support for the VA’s work to address suicide and homelessness prevention. Subcommittee members also inquired about the budget’s proposals to address mental health, opioid use disorder, suicide, homelessness, health care workforce shortages at VA Medical Centers, telehealth, and the VA’s electronic health record system. They also addressed the newly established Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund, authorized through the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022 (P.L. 117-168), to cover the costs of newly authorized health care benefits for veterans related to toxic exposures experienced while serving. 

    Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) asked about the impacts to veterans of the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 (H.R. 2811), the House Republican debt ceiling suspension proposal that would also cut FY 2024 funding back to FY 2022 spending levels [refer to Washington Highlights, April 21]. McDonough noted that an estimated 30 million fewer outpatient visits within the Veterans Health Administration would take place, combined with a reduction in force of 6,000 benefits claims staff.  

    The House of Representatives passed the debt ceiling proposal by a partisan vote of 217-215 on April 26, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has stated he will not bring the measure to a vote.