Health Care

Senator Murray grew up in a household that stressed the importance of national service.  Her father was a World War II veteran, and in college she interned at the Seattle VA.  Caring for our nation’s veterans is one of Senator Murray’s top priorities.  She firmly believes that all Americans have an obligation and duty to makes sure that our veterans have access to the medical care and benefits they earned when they leave the service.  

As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray has fought to provide the funding and resources needed to provide America’s veterans with the health care services they need. 

The American military is in a period of immense transition.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched the military’s capacity and have led to the influx of hundreds of thousands of recent war veterans into a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that did not plan for the aftermath of these military conflicts.  As a result, Senator Murray is very concerned that the VA is not prepared to care for our servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, along with our aging veteran population.

The Bush Administration continually underfunded the VA and pushed to increase fees and co-payments for health care and benefits for veterans.  Senator Murray worked with colleagues in both parties to fight against these efforts and to provide more funding for the VA.

When the Democrats took power in January 2007, Senator Murray took on a greater roll in determining the budget.  In addition to having jurisdiction over veterans’ appropriations bills, she also sits on the Senate Budget Committee.  She has used these positions to increase funding for veterans health. 

As part of the fiscal year (FY) 2007 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, she worked hard to provide nearly $2 billion for the care and treatment of our wounded warriors and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the first time the cost of caring for veterans was included as a cost of war.  She also fought to include $900 million in funding toward research for the invisible wounds of war like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). According to a recent study conducted by the RAND corporation, one out of every five soldiers suffers from PTSD or major mental depression, and roughly the same amount have experienced a traumatic brain injury. 

Senator Murray worked to increase funding for the VA to more than $87 billion in the FY 2008 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, a $3.6 billion increase over the President’s request.  Most recently, as part of the Senate-passed FY 2009 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, Senator Murray worked to provide the VA with nearly $95 billion, with the majority of the funding going to health care services that will help cut wait-times and increase access to quality care and mental health services for our veterans.