News

Toxic Exposure Legislation Expected to be Passed in 2021

September 24, 2021

Two Congressmen stated that they are positive that the bill to provide benefits to veterans affected by burn pits will be passed this year.

According to an article published by Connecting Vets, “Two bills are currently before Congress that address the health care implications of veterans exposed to toxins. On the Senate side, the Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops (COST) of War Act of 2021 would provide generations of veterans suffering from toxic exposures their due benefits and care for the first time in VA history. The legislation recently passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in markup unanimously and was introduced by committee chairman Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).”

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown





VA Disability Deadline Extended for Gulf War Vets

September 22, 2021

The deadline for Gulf War veterans to claim presumptive disability for Gulf War Syndrome and other service-related illnesses has been extended.

According to an article published by Military.com, “While there is no time limit for claiming disability benefits from the VA in normal circumstances, some presumptive conditions do come with time restrictions…To qualify as disabling, a covered illness must have caused illness or symptoms in the veteran for at least six months…Originally the VA was scheduled to stop awarding benefits to new Gulf War veterans with a related disability diagnosis that was given after Dec. 31, 2021. However, the VA has extended that cutoff date to Dec. 31, 2026.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown





VA Disability Claims Backlog to Increase this Fall

September 20, 2021

The number of first-time disability claims that have been waiting for decisions for months has now exceeded 215,000 nearly triple what it was in early 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.

According to an article published by Military Times, “Veterans Affairs officials don’t know how bad the backlog of veteran disability claims will get this fall, but they know it’s getting worse. In a press conference with reporters on Wednesday, VA Secretary Denis McDonough acknowledged that the problem is going to get worse before it gets better. “We anticipate the backlog to further increase this fall as we process claims for new presumptive conditions from the Vietnam and Gulf wars…“We’re in the field fulfilling those claims now. But we want to keep warning our veterans about what to expect, so they see what’s coming in the same way that we do.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Michael Brown





Huge VA Records Backlog Addressed in Federal Spending Bill

September 3, 2021

Due to the gigantic backlog of records requests caused by the pandemic, Congress is deliberating on providing an additional $60 million to help address the problem.

According to an article published by Stars and Stripes, “Most service records prior to 2004 are not digitized and could not be accessed remotely while federal workers were ordered to work from home for months during the pandemic. Millions of veteran records only exist on paper. The backlog reached a peak of half a million requests in May 2021, according to William Bosanko, Chief Operating Officer at the National Archives and Records Administration. On Thursday the House Oversight and Reform Committee approved the new funds as part of a $3.5 trillion social spending bill expected to be considered later this fall.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Wolf and Brown News

Author: Matthew Brown





Senate Backs Big Boost in VA’s $270 Billion Budget

August 11, 2021

Last week, Senate appropriators supported the White House on plans for another considerable boost for theDepartment of Veterans Affairs funding next year.

According to an article published by MilitaryTimes.com, “If approved by the full House and Senate later this year, the legislation would boost discretionary spending for Veterans Affairs by nearly 9 percent (to about $113 billion) and raise total department spending to nearly $270 billion next year, the largest in history…$13.1 billion would be set aside for veterans mental health care services, $2.4 billion for expanded telehealth services [and] another $2.5 billion would be set aside for the implementation of VA’s new electronic medical records overhaul plan.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown





VA Expedites Compensation for Select Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits

August 4, 2021

Earlier this week, the Department of Veterans Affairs expedited disability compensation claims for veterans who developed certain conditions as a direct result of exposure to burn pits.

According to an published by Stars and Stripes, “The VA announced it will now process disability claims for those conditions on a presumptive basis, which lowers the amount of evidence that veterans must provide in order to receive benefits. The change applies to veterans who served from Aug. 2, 1990, to now in the Southwest Asia theater of operations, which includes Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the airspace above these locations. It also applies to veterans who served in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Syria or Djibouti from Sept. 19, 2001, to now. To qualify, the conditions must have manifested within 10 years of a veteran’s deployment.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown





VA to Require COVID Vaccination for all Healthcare Workers

July 27, 2021

This week, the Department of Veterans Affairs leaders announced that all Title 38 employees who work in VA health facilities (incl. physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, etc.) will need to be fully vaccinated by mid-September or lose their jobs.

According to an article published by MilitaryTimes.com, “Officials said the move is designed “to keep the veterans [VA] serves safe].” The mandate has been discussed as a possibility in recent weeks, but the recent nationwide surges in the Delta variant of the virus pushed leaders to enact the change now.” VA Secretary Denis McDonough stated, “Whenever a veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19…With this mandate, we can once again make and keep that fundamental promise.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown





VA Promises New Approach to Electronic Health Record System

July 16, 2021

After federal watchdogs and employees aired their concerns about the new electronic health record system, the Department of Veterans Affairs stated that they will ensure a new approach to the massive project.

According to an article published by Stars and Stripes, “VA Secretary Denis McDonough testified Wednesday before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee about the challenges and the department’s plan moving forward. Shortly after becoming secretary in February, McDonough paused the project and ordered a 12-week internal review. The review revealed patient safety problems, escalating costs, a lack of productivity and ineffective training on the new system for health care providers, among other issues…McDonough vowed there would be a “surge of activity” in the coming weeks and months to correct the problems.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices





New Electronic Health Record System Underestimated by Billions

July 13, 2021

Another audit report by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) confirmed that the electronic health records modernization system (EHRM) was underestimated by billions of dollars.

According to a report by Connecting Vets, “The OIG found the estimate of about $4.3 billion for information technology upgrades was not reliable, and a lack of complete documentation made it difficult to determine the accuracy of estimates…VA announced a strategic review of the EHRM program in March. This is the second OIG report this year examining VA’s development and reporting of cost estimates for infrastructure upgrades needed to support the EHRM program…The OIG also determined that VA did not report to Congress other, critical program-related IT infrastructure upgrade costs totaling about $2.5 billion, thus underreporting the program life-cycle costs by a significant amount.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Michael Brown





New VA Electronic Records System Continues to be Delayed

July 2, 2021

Earlier this year the Department of Veterans Affairs announced a full review of the department’s $16 billion electronic medical records overhaul and stated that the review would not delay the rollout of the new system. However, the review has already caused delays and has left VA hospitals wondering when the new system will be implemented.

According to an article published by Military Times, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said “We’re very close to finalizing the next steps, including changes to the deployment effort to ensure that we come in on time, on budget and, most importantly, provide the best care for our veterans and the best experience for providers,” and continued by saying that the VA needs a few more weeks to make recommendations and changes.

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Matthew Brown