Veterans Policy

We’re tracking 33 Congressional Research Service reports in this topic area. RSS icon

VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (VA MISSION Act; P.L.115-182)

On June 6, 2018, the John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018, or the VA MISSION Act of 2018 (S. 2372; P.L. 115-182; H.Rept. 115-671), was signed into law. The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2018 (S. 3479; P.L. 115-251), enacted on September 29, 2018, made some changes and technical amendments to the VA MISSION Act. This act, as amended, broadly addresses four major areas.

First, it establishes a new permanent Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP),...

The Veterans Choice Program (VCP): Program Implementation

Authorized under Section 101 of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) is a temporary program that enables eligible veterans to receive medical care in the community. Since the program was first established by VACAA, it has been amended and funded several times. More recently, P.L. 115-26 eliminated the August 7, 2017, expiration date for the VCP and allowed the program to continue until the initial $10 billion deposited in the Veterans Choice Fund (VCF) was expended. P.L. 115-46 authorized and appropriated an additional $2.1...

Public Health and Emergency Management: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to public health and emergency management. Policy areas identified include public health and medical system preparedness and response; mental and behavioral health; food safety and food defense; health care financing in disaster response; Stafford Act assistance and the role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Department of Defense (DOD) incident response and civil support; global health and international preparedness; selected legal issues in preparedness and response;...

Federal Disaster Assistance After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Gustav, and Ike

This report provides information on federal financial assistance provided to the Gulf States after major disasters were declared in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas in response to the widespread destruction that resulted from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005 and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008.

Though the storms happened over a decade ago, Congress has remained interested in the types and amounts of federal assistance that were provided to the Gulf Coast for several reasons. This includes how the money has been spent, what resources have been provided to...

Department of Veterans Affairs FY2018 Appropriations

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of benefits and services to veterans and eligible dependents who meet certain criteria as authorized by law. These benefits include medical care, disability compensation and pensions, education, vocational rehabilitation and employment services, assistance to homeless veterans, home loan guarantees, administration of life insurance and traumatic injury protection insurance for servicemembers, and death benefits that cover burial expenses. The VA is funded through the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies...

Health Care for Dependents and Survivors of Veterans

The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) was established by the Veterans Health Care Expansion Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-82). CHAMPVA is primarily a health insurance program where certain eligible dependents and survivors of veterans receive care from private sector health care providers. The program is administered by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Office of Community Care, located in Denver, CO.

Eligibility

To be eligible for CHAMPVA benefits, the beneficiary must be the spouse or child of a veteran who has a total and permanent...

The Veterans Health Administration and Medical Education: In Brief

In the wake of World War II, an influx of veterans requiring medical care threatened to overwhelm the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide such care. In 1946, the VA began entering into affiliations with medical schools as one strategy to increase capacity—both in the short term and in the long term. In the short term, some trainees—in particular, those in the later years of training—may provide direct care to patients, thereby increasing provider capacity and patient access. In the long term, training physicians at the VA creates a pipeline for recruiting...

Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns: CRS Experts

Contacting CRS Subject Matter Experts

In the event of a funding gap, the potential impacts of a government shutdown would depend on a program’s or agency’s specific circumstances and, furthermore, how relevant law is interpreted. Table 1 provides names and contact information for CRS subject matter experts on policy concerns and legal issues relating to funding gaps and the processes and effects that may be associated with a government shutdown. Policy areas that are identified in Table 1 include

agencies and programs funded by specific regular appropriations bills;

cross-cutting shutdown...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2018 (P.L. 115-56)

This report provides an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2018 in Division D of H.R. 601. The measure also included separate divisions that establish a program to provide foreign assistance concerning basic education (Division A—Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act), supplemental appropriations for disaster relief requirements for FY2017 (Division B), and a temporary suspension of the public debt limit (Division C). On September 8, 2017, the President signed H.R. 601 into law (P.L. 115-56).

Division D of H.R. 601 was termed a “continuing...

Department of Veterans Affairs FY2017 Appropriations

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of benefits and services to veterans and eligible dependents who meet certain criteria as authorized by law. These benefits include medical care, disability compensation and pensions, education, vocational rehabilitation and employment services, assistance to homeless veterans, home loan guarantees, administration of life insurance as well as traumatic injury protection insurance for servicemembers, and death benefits that cover burial expenses.

The President’s FY2017 budget request for the VA was submitted to Congress on February 9,...

Long-Term Care Services for Veterans

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), an operating unit of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is a direct service provider of health care, similar in many ways to a large private sector health care system. In addition to providing inpatient, outpatient, and a range of other medical care services, the VHA provides and purchases long-term care services. The VA is one of two federal payers of long-term care services (the other being Medicaid).

Since the 1960s, the VA has been authorized to provide nursing home care to eligible veterans in various settings, including VA facilities,...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2017 (H.R. 5325)

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2017 in H.R. 5325. The measure also included provisions covering appropriations in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for all of FY2017 (Division A), as well as emergency funds to combat the Zika virus and provide relief for flood victims in Louisiana and other affected states (Division B). On September 29, 2016, the President signed H.R. 5325 into law (P.L. 114-223).

Division C of H.R. 5325 was termed a “continuing resolution” (CR) because measures to...

Federal Support for Reproductive Health Services: Frequently Asked Questions

This report provides answers to frequently asked questions concerning the provision, funding, and coverage of reproductive health services. The report is organized by the federal program that pays for or directly provides these services. It concludes with questions about coverage requirements for reproductive health services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148, as amended), and discussions of various federal programs that provide grants to non-governmental entities to provide reproductive health services.

Search terms: family planning, abortion,...

Health Care for Veterans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), operates the nation’s largest integrated health care delivery system, provides care to approximately 6.7 million unique veteran patients, and employs more than 311,000 full-time equivalent employees.

Eligibility and Enrollment. Contrary to claims concerning promises of “free health care for life,” not every veteran is automatically entitled to medical care from the VA. Eligibility for VA health care is based primarily on veteran status resulting from military service. Generally, veterans must also...

Veterans’ Medical Care: FY2016 Appropriations

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits to veterans range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. The VA provides these benefits through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). This report focuses on funding for the VHA.

The President submitted his FY2016 budget request to Congress on February 2, 2015. The President’s request for the VHA is approximately $60.6...

Department of Veterans Affairs FY2016 Appropriations: In Brief

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to veterans who meet certain eligibility criteria. Benefits range from disability compensation and pensions to hospital and medical care. The VA provides these benefits through three major operating units: the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA).

The President submitted his FY2016 budget request to Congress on February 2, 2015. The President requested $164.6 billion for VA. This amount includes $70.1 billion for VA discretionary programs...

Federal Support for Graduate Medical Education: An Overview

Access to health care is, in part, determined by the availability of physicians, a function of the physician supply. Policymakers have demonstrated a long-standing interest in access to care, both in general and for specific populations. Moreover, federal support for medical residency training (a.k.a., graduate medical education [GME]) is the largest source of federal support for the health care workforce. Although the health workforce includes a number of professions, the size of the federal investment in GME—estimated at $15 billion in FY2012—makes it a policy lever often considered to...

Overview of the FY2016 Continuing Resolution (H.R. 719)

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of the FY2016 continuing appropriations in H.R. 719. None of the FY2016 regular appropriations bills were enacted by the start of the fiscal year (October 1, 2015). On September 30, 2015, H.R. 719, a continuing resolution (CR) for FY2016, was signed into law by the President (P.L. 114-53).

The CR for FY2016 covers all 12 regular appropriations bills by providing continuing budget authority for projects and activities funded in FY2015 by that fiscal year’s regular appropriations acts, with some exceptions. It includes both budget...

VA Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 1994) as Passed by the House

This report describes H.R. 1994, 114th Congress, 1st Session, the VA Accountability Act of 2015, as passed by the House on July 29, 2015, and compares its sections to current law where appropriate. Sections 1 through 10 were reported by the Committee on Veterans Affairs. Section 11 was added as a floor amendment.

Section 1 is the short title, “VA Accountability Act of 2015.” Section 2 would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to expedite removing or demoting most employees for misconduct. Section 3 would require an individual appointed to a permanent position in the competitive...

Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230; P.L. 113-146)

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43704 Summary On August 7, 2014, President Obama signed the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3230; H.Rept. 113-564; P.L. 113-146). The Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2014 (H.R. 5404; P.L. 113-175), the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 83; P.L. 113-235), the Construction Authorization and Choice Improvement Act (H.R. 2496; P.L. 114-19), and the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (H.R. 3236; P.L. 114-41) made...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

Improving Health Care Access for Veterans: H.R. 3230

This report provides a brief comparison of the Senate ("Senate Bill") and House ("House Bill") provisions that would provide expanded authority to the VA to provide care to veterans through non-VA health care providers and facilities. This report compares only major provisions contained in Title III of the Senate version and Sections 2 and 3 of the House Version of H.R. 3230.

Health Care for Rural Veterans: The Example of Federally Qualified Health Centers

This report discusses considerations that may arise during possible attempts to increase collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and describes policy levers Congress might use to encourage VA-FQHC collaboration. These approaches might also be employed to encourage collaboration between the VA and other types of facilities that may serve rural veterans.

Budget “Sequestration” and Selected Program Exemptions and Special Rules

“Sequestration” is a process of automatic, largely across-the-board spending reductions under which budgetary resources are permanently canceled to enforce certain budget policy goals. It was first authorized by the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA, Title II of P.L. 99-177, commonly known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act).

Sequestration is of current interest because it has been triggered as an enforcement tool under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25). Sequestration can also occur under the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (Statutory...

Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs: Status of the Integrated Electronic Health Record (iEHR)

The purpose of this report is to provide a background on the long-standing efforts in sharing health information between Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Veterans’ Benefits: Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-154)

Congress has in the past enacted legislation providing authority for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to treat certain veterans for specific medical conditions resulting from their exposure to certain toxic substances or environmental hazards while on active military duty.

In the 1980s, officials at Camp Lejeune became aware of the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water samples. Camp Lejeune was placed on the National Priorities List by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry continues to monitor...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

Veterans Affairs: Health Care and Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

This report provides an overview of health care services and disability compensation benefits available to Vietnam veterans, Children of Vietnam Era veterans, and non-Vietnam veterans

exposed to herbicides. This is followed by a discussion of litigation pertaining to Navy veterans of the Vietnam Era who served offshore and were never physically present on Vietnamese soil. The report concludes with a discussion of epidemiologic research conducted to study the health effects of Agent Orange and dioxin exposure on Vietnam veterans.

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program, and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

CRS Issue Statement on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations

The closing, reduction in scope, or expansion of military installations on domestic soil and overseas, the privatization of government-built military housing, the provision of benefits and medical care to eligible veterans, and the redeployment of military units to the United States from overseas garrisons have drawn congressional attention in recent sessions. The funds to support all of these activities are provided by the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act debated annually in both chambers.

CRS Issue Statement on Veterans' Benefits

Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are the largest sustained ground combat missions undertaken by the United States since the Vietnam War. Over 1.7 million service members have been deployed to these two theaters of operation. Since FY2002, more than 1.0 million veterans have left active duty making them potentially eligible for benefits and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Obama Administration has begun the process of drawing down forces from Iraq and surging the number of combat forces in Afghanistan. These factors will have a continued...

Public Health, Workforce, Quality, and Other Provisions in the America’s Healthy Future Act (S. 1796)

Health care reform is at the top of the domestic policy agenda for the 111th Congress, driven by concerns about the growing ranks of the uninsured and the unsustainable growth in spending on health care and health insurance. But efforts to improve access to care and control rising health care costs also will require changes to the health care delivery system. Experts point to a growing body of evidence of the health care system’s failure to consistently provide high-quality care to all Americans. Major challenges to the delivery of high-quality care include improving patient safety by...