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CRAMER: House Passes Veterans Bills, Including Automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustments

May 23, 2017
Press Release

AUDIO STATEMENT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported several bills passed by the House of Representatives today to improve benefits for veterans, including one he co-sponsored, which ensures automatic cost-of-living (COLA) increases for veterans.

Cramer is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1329, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2017. The bill increases the amounts paid to veterans for disability compensation and to their survivors for dependency and indemnity compensation by the same COLA increases that Social Security recipients will receive in 2018. 

This legislation covers veterans disability compensation, compensation for dependents, clothing allowance, and surviving spouse benefits. Cramer said Social Security recipients automatically receive annual COLA increases determined by the executive branch, based on the Consumer Price Index. With the passage of this bill, COLA rate changes for veterans will no longer require legislative action.

“The point of the bill is to permanently tie together the two rate increases to avoid any potential payout stall for veterans and their dependents,” Cramer said.  “This bill gives veterans and their families the peace of mind they deserve as they plan their financial futures. Many veterans depend on these benefits to assist with their housing, food, and other necessities, so it is essential they keep up with the cost of living. This is the least we can do for our veterans.”

Other veterans bills passed this week include:

H.R. 2288, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, reforms the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appeals process by giving veterans more options. Specifically, veterans could choose between three options: to waive a hearing and the ability to submit additional evidence, submit additional evidence and have a hearing, or transfer jurisdiction to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

H.R. 1725, the Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act of 2017, requires the VA to report on the Department’s Acceptable Clinical Evidence initiative in reducing the necessity for in-person disability examinations within 180 days of enactment. It also requires an annual report to Congress for Fiscal Years 2018-2024 regarding claims in which the VA determined the private medical evidence was unacceptable.

H.R. 467, the VA Scheduling Accountability Act, requires VA medical center directors to annually certify compliance with the VA scheduling directive, prohibits VA medical center leaders from receiving awards or bonuses if their facility fails to certify compliance, and requires VA to ensure that directives and policies apply to each VA office or facility uniformly.  

H.R. 1005, directs the VA to enter into an agreement or a contract with state veterans homes to pay for adult day health care for a veteran eligible, but not receiving nursing home care, due to a service connected disability rating of 70 percent or more.

H.R. 1162, the No Hero Left Untreated Act, requires the VA to carry out a one-year pilot program to treat a limited number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, or opiate addiction or who have experienced military sexual trauma by using magnetic resonance therapy.

H.R. 1545, the VA Prescription Data Accountability Act, requires the VA to disclose information about any individual, veteran or non-veteran, who is prescribed medication by a VA employee or authorized non-VA provider, to a state-controlled substances monitoring program to prevent misuse and diversion of prescription medicines.