We recently wrote about how the Obama administration’s VA bureaucracy was killing veterans by forcing them to wait for routine procedures like colonoscopies. That causes cancers to go undetected when, had the examinations been done on a timely basis, the cancer could have been treated.
Turns out, and we’re not at all surprised, that scandal is barely the tip of the iceberg.
According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the VA has secretly paid out $200 million to settle wrongful death claims at VA hospitals. Even that doesn’t give you a decent picture of the real iceberg that is the Veterans Administration.
The VA is the very picture of what big government has become in the US. Their budget was $140 billion last year, an increase of 41% over the last five years. Money can’t buy happiness, and in the VA’s case it can’t buy better care for our veterans either.
There are currently 900,000 compensation and disability claims in the VA backlog. Two-thirds have are over four months old and it has been growing steadily over the last four years.
Undersecretary Allison Hinkley was recently call upon to resign by oversight committee Chairman Jeff Miller, she declined to do so. She also noted that the VA has turned the corner and they’d be caught up by next year. No one mentioned that she’s been saying that for the past four years.
She credited new processing technology and techniques, better electronic records sharing, and increased training and staffing to handle the problem.
The VA’s disability claims crisis was compounded by the department’s in-house effort to develop a high-tech “Veterans Benefits Management System” that promised to streamline claims processing by up to 65%. The project was supposedly designed around the twelve “Agile Manifesto” principles for “Sustainable Development” software.
But according to a report from the VA Inspector General, after spending $537 million on the Web-based system, 97% of all veterans’ claims remain on hard-copy paper. The IG also warned the weight of paper files at their Winston-Salem, NC office had compromised the structural integrity of the building. Since the report’s release in January 2013, the two top VA technology officers retired, stating they “accomplished their goals.”
Gee, another $500+ million for a website flushed down a rat hole. We’re in the wrong business, we could easily write a website that doesn’t work for probably about $2 million. And, two more federal employees have retired after having “accomplished their goals” of enriching incompetents and screwing taxpayers to death. Not to mention our veterans.
We would like to have a conversation with Ms. Hinkley about just how better electronic records sharing is going to help with a system that is 97% paper.
If you’re not mad yet, just wait.
Despite huge funding increases, staffing levels at the 58 regional VA offices increased by less than 300 since September 2010, even as the volume of new claims dramatically increased. The average increase in delay for veterans filing first-time claims in America’s major population centers was twice the national average. Delays equaled 642 days in New York; 619 days in Los Angeles; and 542 days in Chicago. Veterans waiting more than a year for qualification to receive benefits grew from 11,000 in 2009 to 245,000 in December. The error rate for claims processing average 14%, and an average of 53 veterans died each day while waiting to qualify.
The Veterans’ Administration blamed the 455,000 claim backlog on an uptick in the number of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and veterans requesting compensation for PTSD and Gulf War illness.
So the problem, according to the VA, is returning vets. We wondered if there might be a standard for comparison in this area and sure enough…
In comparison, the average veteran wait time for determining eligibility for disability fell by more than a third under President George W. Bush, despite more than 320,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veteran disability filings.
Something else (think increasing energy production) that the EvilBoosh was much better at than the current administration that’s supposed to be full of really smart people.
Congress increased VA funding by 41% to take care of our veterans. The VA spent the money on a useless web-based computer system that doesn’t work, but they did increase the number of people dealing with the returning vets. They increased staffing at 58 regional centers by slightly less than 300.
That’s priorities for you.