Washington, D.C. – Congressman Himes helped pass three bills to provide earned benefits and crucial services to our veterans.  These measures provide a cost of living increase for veterans’ disability benefits, expand employment services for homeless veterans, and ensure veterans are fully reimbursed for emergency care.

“Veterans have earned these benefits, and it is our duty to provide the resources and services to help them and their families transition back into life at home,” said Congressman Himes.  “These veterans have given more to us than most people could imagine, and I will continue to keep our support for them a top priority in Washington.”

Currently, veterans’ benefits do not keep pace with the rising cost of living and medical expenses.  The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1513) provides a cost of living increase for veterans’ disability benefits and to dependency and life insurance compensation for veterans’ families.  The cost-of-living increase is based on the cost-of-living adjustment made annually for Social Security payments.

The Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1171) helps the Veterans Administration provide comprehensive services to prevent homelessness for veterans.  This bill also addresses the unique challenges female veterans face, including trauma counseling for rape victims and assistance with child care services.  Grants would be made available to provide job training, counseling, placement services, and child care services to expedite the reintegration of veterans into the labor force. 

Under current law, veterans are not reimbursed for medical costs when they receive emergency care from non-VA medical facilities if they have insurance that pays either full or a portion of the emergency care.  This creates an inequity that penalizes veterans with third-party insurance and burdens veterans with paying the remaining amount not covered by insurance.  The Veterans Emergency Care Reimbursement (H.R. 1377) clarifies the reimbursement responsibilities of the VA to ensure veterans are reimbursed for all emergency care.

The bills will next be considered by the United States Senate.