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Reduce the Veterans Benefits Administration claims backlog

"There are currently over 400,000 claims pending within the Veterans Benefits Administration, and over 800,000 claims receipts are expected in 2008 alone. … Obama will hire additional claims workers and convene our nation's leading veterans groups, employees and managers to develop an updated training and management model that will ensure that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently, and stem from adequate training and accountability for each claims adjudicator."


"Fulfilling a Sacred Trust with our Veterans" (original link)

Subjects: Health Care, Veterans
Rated broken in 2012, wait times now back in the headlines

Updated: Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 | By Angie Drobnic Holan

The last time we looked at this promise, in November 2012, we rated it Promise Broken.

The government has had a longstanding problem with handling benefits claims from veterans. We looked at documented wait times for disability compensation, pensions and compensation for surviving spouses or children of veterans who die because of their military service. While these aren't about waits to receive health care services, such claims are often health care-related.

We found a series of government oversight reports on the issue of wait times, which cited not only long lag times but also avoidable errors in rating claims. Officially, the backlog refers to benefit requests that go unaddressed by a government office within 125 days.

We found that the backlog nearly doubled from roughly 36 percent in summer 2010 to 65 percent in June 2012. So not only did President Barack Obama not reduce the backlog, it grew after he took office.

Still, we noted then that Veterans Affairs was hiring more staff to rate claims and had shortened the average time to process a claim. Overall, though, the backlog got worse because there were more veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan who were seeking benefits. For example, the number of claims jumped from 888,000 in 2008 to 1.4 million in 2011.

In 2014, journalists have uncovered stories about VA staff falsifying documentation about how long veterans are waiting for receiving health care in VA facilities. The story seems to be the same: A system overwhelmed by demand for services. Obama said on May 21 that he's waiting for findings from official investigations so he can take action.

Because of the allegations of falsifying information, we have questions about whether official numbers are trustworthy. In April, the Obama administration released numbers suggesting the backlog was shrinking, but veterans groups said they had serious concerns that the numbers weren't accurate.

We'll be looking at this promise again in the coming months. For now, it remains Promise Broken.


CNN, Veterans dying because of health care delays, Jan. 30, 2014


Message to Veterans from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs
May 22, 2014 by Eric K. Shinseki
The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
Fellow Veterans and Family Members,

After 38 years in The Army, I am now honored and privileged to serve as your Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA).  VA remains committed to providing the high quality benefits you have earned and deserve.

Allegations of VA employees’ misconduct have surfaced over the last several weeks, beginning with scheduling delays at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. As I testified before Congress on May 15, I take any allegations about patient safety or employee misconduct very seriously.  The reports of Veterans’ negative experiences while seeking VA care are of great personal concern to me. I fully agree with President Obama’s statement on May 21, 2014: “If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful . . . .”

In response to these allegations at the Phoenix VA Medical Center and a number of other facilities, the VA Office of Inspector General is conducting a comprehensive, independent review.  In addition to the IG’s independent review, I ordered the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to conduct a nationwide audit of all other major VA healthcare facilities to ensure understanding of, and compliance with, our appointment policy.  That audit is being conducted now by more than two hundred senior VHA staff.  All teams are independent of the facilities they are visiting.  You and your families deserve to have full faith in your VA, and we intend to earn it every day.

As President Obama made clear to the American people May 21, 2014, “Every single day, there are people working in the VA who do outstanding work and put everything they’ve got into making sure that our Veterans get the care, benefits, and services that they need.”  I echo that praise and commend the hard work and dedication of the vast majority of our VA employees, many of whom are Veterans themselves.  Every year, dedicated employees are prepared to provide care for over 8.9 million Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare.  Every day, VHA conducts approximately 236,000 outpatient healthcare appointments—about 85 million last year.

Since 2009, we have enrolled two million more Veterans in high-quality VA healthcare, reduced Veterans’ homelessness by 24 percent, and provided Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits to more than one million student Veterans and eligible family members.  We have opened up new presumptives for Veterans to receive long overdue care for exposure to Agent Orange, for combat-related PTS-D, and for Gulf War illnesses.  And, we have decreased the disability claims backlog by over 50 percent in the last 14 months.  We will meet our goal of eliminating the claims backlog in 2015.

Every VA medical facility is accredited by The Joint Commission, an independent, non-profit organization that ensures the quality of U.S. healthcare through intensive evaluation of more than 20,000 healthcare organizations.  In 2012, The Joint Commission, recognized 19 VA hospitals as top performers, and that number increased to 32 in 2013.

Since 2004, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey has consistently shown that, on average, Veterans who use VA healthcare award our hospitals and clinics a higher customer satisfaction score than patients give private sector hospitals.  When asked if they would use a VA medical center the next time they need inpatient or outpatient care, 96 percent and 95 percent of Veterans, respectively, indicated they would.  Veterans across the Nation are receiving quality care from VA.  We must encourage other Veterans to seek it.

Notwithstanding these accomplishments, VA will do even better.  If any allegations under review are substantiated, we will act.

As we approach our observance of Memorial Day and its special significance to our Nation, VA is re-doubling its efforts, with integrity and compassion, to earn your trust.

As President Obama said, Veterans have “done their duty, and they ask nothing more than that this country does ours—that we uphold our sacred trust to all who have served.”

And, we will.

Eric Shinsek


What a joke, and a little late his days are very numbered. Why write this crock now ? maybe because he got caught NOT doing his job...


:rotflslap:  first things first is proof, not just a Republican made Scandal.. take time to read the article. please


SSC wrote:What a joke, and a little late his days are very numbered. Why write this crock now ? maybe because he got caught NOT doing his job...
forgot to high light the link..


How can you even be so blind to this, VA treatment has been horrible for years, believe me I know my late husband dealt with the VA, and in 2008 Obama in his push to get votes vowed to fix the system, didn't happen, this as one of your posts cites goes back as far as JFK, so lets not make this Dem & Repub. lets make this a whole system break down through many administrations and a damn shame our Veterans have had to suffer.


well as my article stated,Obama has done all he can until congress works with him and quit vetoing the bills nothing has been proven that there is a scandal and if it is I believe Obama will fix it~ you Republicans jump on the blame Wagon to much. now back to ignoring you.


VA clinic employee on leave after e-mail about manipulating appointments
By Drew Griffin, Scott Bronstein, Nelli Black and Ray Sanchez, CNN
updated 10:49 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
Source: CNN

NEW: Whistleblower tells CNN the e-mail outlined ways to manipulate the system
VA chief acts after e-mail discussed "gaming" appointments
House committee chief criticizes VA for handling of scandal
CNN exclusively reported veterans dying while on wait list in Phoenix, Arizona

(CNN) -- A growing scandal over the manipulation of health care appointments resulted in an employee at a Wyoming clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs being placed on administrative leave, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said Friday.

An e-mail allegedly written by an employee in Cheyenne, obtained by CNN, says: "Yes, it is gaming the system a bit. But you have to know the rules of the game you are playing, and when we exceed the 14-day measure, the front office gets very upset, which doesn't help us. Let me know if this doesn't make sense."

The Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman who says she supplied the e-mail to investigators told CNN in an exclusive interview that employees were told to "game the system because it made Cheyenne look good." CNN confirmed with investigators that she was the source of the e-mail.

The e-mail outlined ways employees could manipulate the system to hide the fact that veterans had to wait months for appointments, said Lisa Lee, a scheduler at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, which is managed by the Wyoming clinic.

"We were sat down by our supervisor ... and he showed us exactly how to schedule so it looked like it was within that 14-day period," Lee told CNN. "They would keep track of schedulers who were complying and getting 100 percent of that 14 day(s) and those of us who were not."

The VA's official policy is that all patients should be able to see a doctor, dentist or some other medical professional within 14 days of their requested/preferred date. Any wait longer than two weeks is supposed to documented. But many veterans end up waiting longer, and the delays are never reported, veterans and their advocates say.

Shinseki released a statement saying he has ordered an investigation by the inspector general, and that the employee be removed immediately from patient care responsibilities and placed on leave.

"VA takes any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously," Shinseki said. "If true, the behavior outlined in the email is unacceptable."

Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, which subpoenaed Shinseki to testify next week, said in a statement that "the VA's reaction to the latest development in its delays in care scandal is faux outrage at its finest."

"Since last year, VA officials have known about intentional efforts to falsify patient wait time data at the Fort Collins, Colo., Community-Based Outpatient Clinic, which is part of the Cheyenne VA Medical Center," Miller said in the statement. "In fact, according to a Dec. 2013 VA Office of Medical Inspector report, clerks at the Fort Collins clinic were actually taught how to cook the books. Yet until today, department officials had not taken any steps whatsoever to discipline any employees or request an independent investigation -- nor did they plan to do so."

Miller said Shinseki's actions Friday appear "to be more of a knee-jerk reaction to tough media questions than anything else. If this is what it takes for VA leaders to do the right thing, you can't help but question how they operate when they think no one is paying attention."

The latest allegation comes as the federal department defends itself against claims of potentially deadly delays at other facilities throughout the nation, including claims of a secret wait list in Phoenix, which was first reported by CNN.

An new interim director, Steve Young, will take over the Phoenix VA Health Care system on Monday, the department announced Friday. He takes over an embattled system responsible for 85,000 veterans and an operating budget of about $500 million.

On Thursday, Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman, Associate Director Lance Robinson and a third employee, who was not identified, were placed on leave amid allegations of a secret waiting list and claims that more than 40 veterans died waiting for care.

The American Legion, the nation's largest veterans organization, and another group, Concerned Veterans for America, have called for Shinseki's resignation.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told CNN on Friday that if the mounting accusations are true, "people should go to jail." He spoke before news broke of the Wyoming clinic e-mail.

McCain's comments came the same day that he appeared at a Phoenix town hall meeting in which a procession of veterans and their families criticized what they described as widespread delays and mismanagement within the national health care system designed for America's veterans.

"If it is what it appears to be, this isn't just resignations, this is violations of the law," McCain told CNN's Jake Tapper. "People should go to jail."

The former POW said, "Not surprisingly ... this is spreading .... and we need to hold people accountable."

McCain told the town hall meeting that Shinseki called him to say he had ordered a "face-to-face audit" at all VA clinics but wanted to wait for an VA inspector general's report before revealing his findings.

"My friends, an inspector general's report can take months. I told him we cannot wait a day, much less months, before there is a report," McCain said amid applause.

Shinseki ordered the audit Thursday. The same day, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee subpoenaed him.

The subpoena will cover e-mails that allegedly discussed the destruction of a secret list, first reported by CNN, of veterans waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital.

Attention on the secretary follows months of CNN exclusive reporting about U.S. veterans who have died while they waited for treatment at VA hospitals.

CNN has submitted numerous requests for an interview with Shinseki; the secretary has refused them all.

On Thursday, a VA scheduler in San Antonio, said clerks scheduling medical appointments for veterans were "cooking the books" at their bosses' behest to hide the fact some had to wait weeks, if not months, for appointments.

The Office of Inspector General confirmed to CNN that it has staff investigators on the ground in San Antonio looking into the allegations.


gypsy wrote:well as my article stated,Obama has done all he can until congress works with him and quit vetoing the bills nothing has been proven that there is a scandal and if it is I believe Obama will fix it~ you Republicans jump on the blame Wagon to much. now back to ignoring you.
LMAO...we Republicans ??? I feel so sorry for you being so unable to see both sides, guess the Dem block on Rubio's bill somehow will be Republicans fault too. When you learn to get past racial crutches and Bush bashing and refusing to accept this is both parties fault come back and discuss until then PLEASE ignore me and not comment on my posts.



Juan Williams: Some Say President Obama Has 'Gone Overboard' to Support Our Veterans

By Jackie Seal | May 23, 2014 | 09:03

When it comes to TV punditry, there's your garden variety liberal talking points, and then there's your absurdly over-the-top liberal spin. Fox News contributor Juan Williams opted to offer the latter in an appearance today when he hinted that, if anything, President Obama cares a little too much about America's military veterans.

Appearing on the 11 a.m. Eastern hour on Fox News's Happening Now along with New York Post columnist Charlie Hurt, Williams insisted that President Obama has nearly gone "overboard" in his support of veterans. This response came, however, to a simple question from host Jon Scott: "[I]f, as the president said this was one of the causes of his presidency, why hasn't it [the persistent problems with the VA] been fixed?"

Read more:


Moderator  I won't post the article,it is to long, but in A  round table discussion,Vets applauded  Shinsek,they said he has done a good job, with a troubled system that has been errupting for decades, Shinsek, says he will get to the bottom of this, Vets also have been very pleased with Obama and his work for the Veterans.. this  problem  is not Obamas fault, as was  said it has been a problem for decades, inside the Va and from  both parties not hammering down on rules and regulations, transparency needs to be more forth coming
My thoughts:: with the approval rating of Congress, (9%, they are still creating scandals with out any legit proof. maybe they think it doesn't matter, but people are fed up with the Republicans and their do nothing Attitude

Another good article .




It is hard to call something a scandal when people are dying, cover ups are exposed and the President is in a panic on damage control on an issue he himself addressed in 2008. The scandal is it was never dealt with all these years until it became a political blackeye for his administration just around the corner from the 2014 elections. You who claim to have veterans in your family shock me at your lack of caring or concern for their treatment and you place party lines above their treatment.


Under the cover of darkness and on the eve of Memorial Day, President Obama landed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan for a surprise visit with U.S. troops.

According to a pool report by NPR's Scott Horsley, Obama is expected to get an on-site briefing from his military commanders and visit wounded servicemen on the base.

Scott continues:

"The centerpiece of the trip is a rally with some of the 32,000 Americans who are currently serving in Afghanistan — a war the president is committed to winding down by year's end. A performance by country music star Brad Paisley, who traveled with the president, will set the tone for the event, expected to be long on thanks for the troops and short on foreign policy pronouncements.
"The show of support for men and women in uniform comes as Obama is trying to tamp down criticism at home over the treatment of veterans seeking care at VA hospitals. In his weekly address Saturday, the president said the nation must work harder to ensure that military veterans get the benefits they've earned. 'They've done their duty,' he said, 'and they ask nothing more than that this country does ours.'
"On Wednesday, Obama is set to deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. That's the setting where in 2009 he announced a troop surge that pushed U.S. force levels in Afghanistan to a peak of 100,000, while also setting a timetable for withdrawal. The president now has to decide whether any U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, with the limited mission of supporting Afghan forces and battling terrorists. Any such residual force is contingent on agreement from the next Afghan president."
Obama made a similar trip to Afghanistan in 2012. He delivered a speech then in which he said that after more than a decade war, the U.S. was on a path toward peace.

The Los Angeles Times spoke to a "senior advisor" who gave the paper a preview of the speech Obama is expected to deliver on Wednesday.

The paper reports that Obama will outline a second-term foreign policy that is "interventionist and internationalist, but not isolationist or unilateral."

The paper adds:

"Obama believes that 'we need to put that to use in an international system that is sustainable and enduring,' the advisor said, 'and that can address challenges, from traditional ones like maritime and trade issues, to emerging ones like climate change.'


The show of support for men and women in uniform comes as Obama is trying to tamp down criticism at home over the treatment of veterans seeking care at VA hospitals.

This line from your post speaks volumes it is called damage control !!!



How America Treats Illegal Aliens vs. Veterans
Michelle Malkin | May 23, 2014

A government that fails to secure its borders is guilty of dereliction of duty. A government that fails to care for our men and women on the frontlines is guilty of malpractice. A government that puts the needs of illegal aliens above U.S. veterans for political gain should be prosecuted for criminal neglect bordering on treason.

Compare, contrast and weep:

In Sacramento, Calif., lawmakers are moving forward with a budget-busting plan to extend government-funded health insurance to at least 1.5 million illegal aliens.

In Los Angeles, federal bureaucrats callously canceled an estimated 40,000 diagnostic tests and treatments for American veterans with cancer and other illnesses to cover up a decade-long backlog.

In New York, doctors report that nearly 40 percent of their patients receiving kidney dialysis are illegal aliens. A survey of nephrologists in 44 states revealed that 65 percent of them treat illegal aliens with kidney disease.

In Memphis, a VA whistleblower reported that his hospital was using contaminated kidney dialysis machines to treat America's warriors. The same hospital previously had been investigated for chronic overcrowding at its emergency room, leading to six-hour waits or longer. Another watchdog probe found unconscionable delays in processing lab tests at the center. In addition, three patients died under negligent circumstances, and the hospital failed to enforce accountability measures.

In Arizona, illegal aliens incurred health care costs totaling an estimated $700 million in 2009.

In Phoenix, at least 40 veterans died waiting for VA hospitals and clinics to treat them, while government officials created secret waiting lists to cook the books and deceive the public about deadly treatment delays.

At the University of California at Berkeley, UC President Janet Napolitano (former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security) has offered $5 million in financial aid to illegal alien students. Across the country, 16 states offer in-state tuition discounts for illegal aliens: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. In addition, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, the University of Hawaii Board of Regents and the University of Michigan Board of Regents all approved their own illegal alien tuition benefits.
olleges and universities had enrolled just 168 American veterans, down from 232 in 2011. Anti-war activists have waged war on military recruitment offices at elite campuses for years. The huge influx of illegal aliens in state universities is shrinking the number of state-subsidized slots for vets.

In 2013, the Obama Department of Homeland Security released 36,007 known, convicted criminal illegal aliens, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. The catch-and-release beneficiaries include thugs convicted of homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and thousands of drunk or drugged driving crimes.

The same Department of Homeland Security issued a report in 2009 that identified returning combat veterans as worrisome terrorist and criminal threats to America.

In Washington, Big Business and open-borders lobbyists are redoubling efforts to pass another massive illegal alien amnesty to flood the U.S. job market with low-wage labor.

Across the country, men and women in uniform returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan have higher jobless rates than the civilian population. The unemployment rate for new veterans has spiked to its worst levels, nearing 15 percent. For veterans ages 24 and under, the jobless rate is a whopping 29.1 percent, compared to 17.6 percent nationally for the age group.

A Forbes columnist reported last year that an Air Force veteran was told: "We don't hire your kind."

And last December, Democrats led the charge to reduce cost-of-living increases in military pensions -- while blocking GOP Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions' efforts to close a $4.2 billion loophole that allows illegal aliens to collect child tax credits from the IRS, even if they pay no taxes. The fraudulent payments to illegal aliens would have offset the cuts to veterans' benefits.

America: medical and welfare welcome mat to the rest of the world, while leavings its best and bravest veterans to languish in hospital lounges, die waiting for appointments, and compete for jobs and educational opportunities against illegal border-crossers, document fakers, visa violators and deportation evaders. Shame on us.

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