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Opening Statement of Hon. Steve Buyer, Ranking Repubican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Indiana

Thank you Mr. Chairman. 

Placing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care under a mandatory funding program would subject it to PAYGO offsets and in put it in direct competition with Medicare and Medicaid.

I cannot understand why some organizations are so eager to make such a radical change that would risk jeopardizing our nation’s largest and finest health care system.

It’s especially perplexing to me that some of these same organizations recommend a cautious, measured approach to fixing VA’s claims processing system.

Why would you recommend radical changes for a system that is widely praised by numerous sources, while recommending incremental changes for a system that, by your own definition, is in a state of crisis?

The inconsistency is astounding…

Mandatory funding for VA would create a new type of entitlement program, an entitlement program for the second largest department in the federal government, not an individual. 

I believe the downside to such a change, as so well-explained in Mr. Kogan’s written testimony, outweighs the potential positives.

Entitlements have great emotional appeal because they appear to offer something for nothing.  

On the surface, entitlement programs appear to offer a smooth funding process that is automatic. 

Entitlements are so politically appealing that it is tempting to expand them under the guise of providing an ever-increasing security blanket that makes our citizens more reliant on government programs.

As Mr. Kogan will aptly points out, that is hardly the case. 

I would also note that Mr. Aaron from the Brookings Institute, hardly a bastion of conservatism, opposes mandatory funding.

Proponents of mandatory funding ignore that the recent successes of the VA healthcare system took place under a discretionary funding system. 

Proponents of mandatory funding often cite Medicare and Medicaid as examples of how we should fund veterans’ healthcare.

I find it notable that Mr. Kogan refers to those programs as “stingy” despite their entitlement status.

Mr. Chairman, we must resist the urge to respond emotionally and risk making irrational changes that may jeopardize VA health care.  

Our obligation to provide care for our veterans can best be fulfilled if the funding system is within our jurisdiction where we can make necessary, rapid adjustments.

I strongly oppose the notion of abrogating this responsibility.