100,000 Claims Added To VA Backlog In Bush's First 100 Days

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Subject: Evans: 100,000 Claims Added To VA Backlog In Bush's First 100 Days
Date: Tue, 8 May 2001 17:07:56 -0500
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Evans: 100,000 Claims Added To VA Backlog In Bush's First 100 Days

May 1, 2001
Dave Eberhart
Stars and Stripes Veterans Affairs Editor


 

 

On the day the administration touted its "first 100 days" of accomplishments and initiatives regarding veterans, Reps. Lane Evans, D-Ill., and Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, reminded President Bush in a letter April 27 that the VA's claims backlog grew by almost 100,000 claims during the same period.

According to Evans, the backlog of 513, 971 claims for benefits has been aggravated by the administration's failure to send Congress a VA request for $30 million in additional funds to attack the caseload at VA regional offices.

Earlier this year, the VA asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to obtain $30 million needed to address a "dramatic increase" in the pending caseload. While the president's budget acknowledges a need for additional funding in fiscal 2001, no request has been sent to Congress.

"Claims delayed are claims denied for those veterans," Evans, the House Veterans Affairs Committee's ranking member, and Reyes, the ranking member of the benefits subcommittee, told Bush. "This is no way to honor the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in uniform and now seek benefits for disabilities incurred or aggravated by their military service.

 

 

 

Many veterans, particularly the frail and seriously ill, understandably fear that they may die before their claims are adjudicated and their claims will therefore be extinguished.

 

- Rep. Evans

 

 

 

 


"Many veterans, particularly the frail and seriously ill, understandably fear that they may die before their claims are adjudicated and their claims will therefore be extinguished."

Evans and Reyes added that other members of Congress hear daily from disabled veterans and their families concerning hardships the backlog is causing.

The two lawmakers said the OMB should immediately authorize the VA to seek congressional approval for a temporary reprogramming of funds to help address the claims crisis.

The VA's Own Review

The VA, in its own first-100-days review, also on released April 27, noted that the president's fiscal 2002 budget includes a 13 percent increase for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to improve claims processing. The funds would add about 860 full-time employees to the VA's compensation and pension program.

On April 16, VA Secretary Anthony Principi established a VA claims processing task force which is to examine issues concerning medical examinations, information technology and efforts to shrink the claims backlog and improve the accuracy of decisions.

According to the VA, the administration's proposed VA medical care budget includes a $1 billion increase.

The VA review noted that six new Parkinson's disease research education and clinical care centers are being established in Houston, Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., Richmond, Va., San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The administration's budget proposal funds land acquisitions for new national cemeteries in the Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Sacramento areas.

 

 

"From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remember'd;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day".

 

 

From Henry V by William Shakespeare