House passes funding bill that includes Walorski amendment to protect veterans with diabetes
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 4486), by a vote of 416-1.
This bill, which is the annual funding bill for military construction and veteran’s affairs, increases funding for veterans programs by $1.5 billion dollars while still spending $1.8 billion less than last year’s funding bill.
Specifically, this provides funding for housing, education facilities, and medical facilities for active duty service members. It also boosts funding to address the long-standing backlog issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs and provides support for mental health, suicide prevention, and homeless veterans programs.
“We are indebted to our service members, veterans and their families, all who have sacrificed so much for our country,” Walorski said. “Today, we’ve given every veteran, marine, soldier, sailor, airman, along with their spouses and children, the opportunity to thrive and have a better life. As a member of the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees, it’s unacceptable to me that the backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to grow. These men and women deserve the best quality of life and I hope we have the attention of the VA that this dysfunction won’t be tolerated.”
Walorski also offered an amendment to protect veterans with diabetes by ensuring the VA continues to offer diabetes patients a variety of supplies through the competitive bid process. That amendment was adopted by a voice vote.
“Right now, 25 percent of veterans in the VA healthcare system have diabetes, compared to about 8.3 percent of the general public,” Walorski said. “As a result, diabetes care places a significant cost burden on the VA’s budget—accounting for almost 4 percent of the overall VA health care budget and costing almost $1.5 billion annually.”
The amendment would provide healthy competition both for the patient and the marketplace—allowing the VA to utilize significant purchasing power. Because of this competition, vendors would be forced to reduce costs and innovate.
The bill now heads to the Senate for further action.