VA 2020 Budget Released, $19 Billion Higher Than 2019
The White House has released its fiscal 2020 budget proposal, and it includes $216 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs — a $19 billion (9.5 percent) increase over fiscal 2019. However, there are concerns: the budget calls for more privatization of VA responsibilities, and a proposal to “round down” Veterans’ annual cost-of-living increases to the nearest whole dollar. We will be delving into the budget this week to create more detailed analysis, which will be posted to AUSN.org and included in the weekly SITREP report.
DoD To Cut 17,000 Medical Billets
The Department of Defense will eliminate 17,000 uniformed medical billets over the next few years, and the billets will be repurposed as warfighters or combat support, DoD representatives said in a teleconference call with military and veterans organizations, including AUSN. In response to a question from AUSN CEO RADM Christopher Cole (USN, Ret.) on how the elimination of these billets would improve the quality of care, a DoD representative said that outsourcing was possible and more standardization would help. “I think we’re going to be using all the tools that we have,” he said. “That would include clearly adding staffing where we think that there’s a need, also more network care.” AUSN has some reservations about this move affecting the quality of care for Sailors and Veterans and we will continue to monitor the situation.
New VA Partnership Brings Genetic Testing To Veterans
Veterans will be able to get access to genetic testing that will show how their body responds to certain drugs, thanks to a new partnership announced this week. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Sanford Health will launch a pilot site in North Carolina and will enroll cancer survivors first, with a goal of expanding the program to 250,000 U.S. veterans at 125 sites by 2022. Read more about the program here.
AUSN Submits Annual Testimony To SVAC, HVAC
AUSN has submitted its annual testimony to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The testimony encourages Congress to pass Blue Water Navy once and for all, continue to reform the VA to make it work for Veterans, and makes several other recommendations. Stay tuned to the AUSN.org website this week, as we will post the full testimony and highlights from it.