Obama Signs California Lawmaker’s Bill To Help Veterans Save for Care

This week, President Obama signed into law a bill (HR 2514) by a California lawmaker that seeks to help veterans save money to cover health care expenses, the Lake County Record-Bee reports.

Details of HR 2514

Under HR 2514, by Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Sam Johnson (R-Texas), veterans with supplemental health coverage who also receive Veterans Administration care for service-related disabilities can contribute to health savings accounts.

Current IRS regulations prohibit veterans and their families from contributing to HSAs for three months after receiving care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (Lake County Record-Bee, 8/5).

In a release, Thompson said, “This is a commonsense, bipartisan bill that will help make sure veterans and their families aren’t left on the hook for health care expenses they’d otherwise be covered for just because they received care from the VA” (Thompson release, 7/30).

Calif. Lawmakers Introduce Veteran Housing Bill

In related news, three lawmakers from California have introduced legislation that would help move homeless veterans into VA housing in West Los Angeles, as well as provide them with supplemental medical services, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In a letter to the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said the measure would allow VA to enter into leases with local governments and not-for-profit groups. Under the leases, VA would be able to provide veterans with supportive shelter with supplemental services, such as medical care.

According to the Times, VA’s West Los Angeles campus has long been criticized for alleged mismanagement. For example, several groups in 2011 sued VA, alleging it wrongfully leased parts of its campus to organizations unrelated to its mission of providing veterans with health care and other support. One such entity was UCLA’s baseball team, which used a stadium on the campus.

According to VA spokesperson Michael Huff, the legislation also would leave open the option for UCLA to continue using the stadium in exchange for providing care to veterans (Parvini/Groves, Los Angeles Times, 8/6).

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