Rep. Bob Filner of California, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, will be pushing for the creation of a trust fund that will ensure funding for long-term veterans care.
According to a feature on the Navy Times, this proposal is in response to new estimates that show an increase of 30 percent in the expected lifetime costs of health care for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Costs will reportedly reach $589 billion and $934 billion over the lifetime of veterans. Filner said: “Congress is not taking responsibility for funding veterans when it does it piecemeal and after the fact.” The creation of the trust fund, according to Filner, can be pressed next year by offering an amendment to “every veterans or defense bill.”
The new cost estimates were provided by Dr. Linda Bilmes of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Bilmes will testify on Thursday before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs regarding the new estimates on the total cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The new estimates, according to Bilmes, is based on signs that more of the 1.4 million veterans of the Iraqi and Afghan wars are seeking help than expected previously. She shared: “The number of veterans filing for disability benefits and using VA medical services is much higher than predicted two years ago.” Initial estimates only expected 366,000 to 398,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to apply for disability benefits. At this time, however, half a million have already filed disability claims. They also expected less than 400,000 veterans to seek treatment under the VA system, but almost 600,000 have already sought treatment.