05.20.16

Federal Infrastructure & VA Funding Coming Soon?

Some major federal funding could be coming our way from our nation's capitol.

Two bills are now on the Senate floor that would provide record-setting dollars for VA medical programs and money for infrastructure improvements: the MicCON-VA Appropriations Act and the Transportation and Housing Appropriations Act.

The MilCon-VA bill would provide financial support for the Opioid Safety Initiative to help veterans who are at risk for overdoses with pain care, it would aim to add agro-therapy, and also work to expand the VA's efforts in getting care to those in rural areas of our state.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito says the overall goal is to get veterans the best care we can.

"I think this is where we coordinate with the private sector as well, to make sure that we're using all resources in a community as well,” says Senator Capito. “If the VA is low on certain areas of mental health care, then we should be able to go to the private sector and access that care."

Those at the VA hospital in Clarksburg say it's vital to continue efforts of getting veteran's the help they need, especially when it comes to the challenge of mental health.

"There are, as we speak, likely patients, veterans and non-veterans, that could benefit from mental health services and don't have ready access to them, whether it's because of distance, or whether it's because of their insurance status, or their economic resources," says Dr. Glenn R. Snider Jr., Medical Center Director for the Louis A. Johnson VA.

The second bill would allocate billions of dollars from the Highway Trust Fund to the Federal-aid Highways Program, grants for airport improvements, and would provide resources to improve affordable housing in low-income and rural communities.

"We might have a lot of housing, but a lot of it's not in such good shape,” says Senator Capito. “We want to make sure that people with disabilities have access to good housing. We want to make sure that our housing programs have updates and energy efficient units."

Those who deal with this issue on a daily basis says it is definitely a problem that needs addressed.

"The quality of housing that we have in our area, sometimes, is not up to standards, national standards. And, certainly, the affordability is an issue as well," says John Martys, Executive Director of the Fairmont Morgantown Housing Authority.

From an economic standpoint, experts say improving our roads can work hand-in-hand with improving our housing.

"Better infrastructure means commuting times will be quicker, so we can build further out and it won't be as hard to travel into the city. So, if we can kind of increase the supply of land where we can build houses, that will help improve the housing price situation over time," says Dr. John Deskins, Director of the Bureau for Business and Economic Research at WVU.

The two bills would go into effect for the 2017 fiscal year.


By:  Matthew Baumgarten
Source: WDTV