Discuss as:

Obama signs VA bill into law

From NBC's Kelly Paice
President Obama today signed into law the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act, guaranteeing advance funding for veterans' medical care. The premise of the law is to be sure the services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs will not be disrupted by budget approval delays from Congress. Delays in passing the VA budget are nothing new -- this year was the 20th time in the last 23 years that Congress did not approve it by the beginning of the fiscal year. These delays can be especially disruptive to VA hospitals and clinics across the country.
 
In the East Room signing ceremony, Obama said, "This is common-sense reform. It promotes accountability at the VA; it ensures oversight by Congress; it is fiscally responsible by not adding a dime to the deficit; and it ensures that veterans' health care will no longer be held hostage to the annual budget battles in Washington."
 
The new law will provide funding one year in advance for veterans medical programs, so if Congress continues in its pattern of failing to approve the VA budget at its scheduled time, there will be no lapse in funding. Advance funding will take effect with the fiscal 2011 budget. In order to secure that money beforehand, however, the new law will require the VA to submit an estimate of its funding needs to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office for review. That review will then be made public, hence the "transparency" of the law.