The Obama administration’s budget proposal for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2011 is seeking $250 million to strengthen access to health care for 3.2 million Veterans enrolled in VA’s medical system who live in rural areas. This push for rural outreach includes expanded use of home-based primary care and mental health through the department’s “telehealth” program. The system links patients and health care providers by telephones and includes telephone-based data transmission, enabling daily monitoring of patients with chronic problems. The budget provides an increase of $42 million for VA’s home “telehealth” program. The effort already cares for 35,000 patients and is the largest program of its kind in the world.
“Our budget proposal provides the resources necessary to continue our aggressive pursuit of President Obama’s two over-arching goals for Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “First, the requested budget will help transform VA into a 21st century organization. And second, it will ensure that we approach Veterans’ care as a lifetime initiative, from the day they take their oaths until the day they are laid to rest.”