This testimony discusses lifetime costs of supporting the newest generation of veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) operates one of the largest health care delivery systems in the nation, providing care to a diverse population of veterans. VA operates about 150 hospitals, 130 nursing homes, and 820 outpatient clinics through 21 regional health care networks called Veterans Integrated Service Networks. VA is responsible for providing health care services to various populations--including an aging veteran population and a growing number of younger veterans returning from the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Budgeting for this vital health care mission is inherently complex. It is based on current assumptions and imperfect information, not only about program needs, but also on future economic and policy actions that may affect demand and the cost of providing these services. Adding to this complexity, VA has recognized over the years the need to plan and budget for facility modernization, and realign its real property portfolio to provide accessible, high-quality, and cost-effective access to its services. The statement today addresses VA's real property realignment efforts and VA's approach to developing budget estimates for health care. It is based on our prior real property realignment work, where we examined the extent to which VA's capital planning efforts resulted in changes to its real property portfolio, helped VA identify facility planning priorities, and reflected leading federal practices for real property management. It is also based on our prior budget estimate work, where we examined how VA develops its health care budget estimate, addressed what VA identified as the key changes that were made to its budget estimate to develop the President's budget request for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and explained how various sources of funding for VA health care and other factors informed the President's budget requests.
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