This bill — the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2019 — would extend certain VA programs for rural veterans.
Specifically , it would extend financial assistance for supportive services for very low-income veteran families in permanent housing for two years (at a total cost of $380 million) and three other VA authorities for one year.
Rural veterans face a number of unique challenges in terms of accessing healthcare and housing programs that the VA needs the budget to address.
This bill would ensure that existing VA funds for these priorities remain available for veterans and their families in the near term.
The three VA authorities this bill would extend for a year are:
VA’s authority to temporarily expand payments and allowances for beneficiary travel in connection with Veterans receiving care from vet centers; VA’s authority relating to vendee loans; and VA’s authority to operate a regional office in the Philippines
Our Veterans defended our country and earned these benefits.
Our rural Veterans sometimes need to travel long distances to receive care and they shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill.
Washington needs to do right by all of our Veterans and make sure there is no interruption in services for them or their families.
Among these challenges, the Office of Rural Health notes, are higher poverty rates, more elderly residents, poorer overall resident health, fewer practicing physicians, hospitals, and health delivery resources.
The Office of Rural Health notes that, just like many other rural residents, rural veterans and their caregivers may have trouble accessing health care and other services due to numerous structural challenges, including hospital closing due to financial instability, fewer employment and transportation options, and geographic and distance barriers.
Currently, the VA allocates 32% of its healthcare budget to rural veteran care.