News

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





VA Promises to Continue Telephonic and Online Appointments

June 24, 2021

Veterans Affairs has recently announced that they will continue to offer telehealth and online medical appointments, even after the pandemic.  However, they’ll need Congress to help ensure that.

According to an article published by MilitaryTimes, “During an appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee, VA Secretary Denis McDonough noted that online video appointments between department physicians and patients are about 18 times higher now than at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020…But McDonough noted there has been reluctance to embrace the change among some staffers accustomed to in-person meetings, something he said he will work to address.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices





Officials Say VA Benefits Backlog Only Fixed by Late 2022

June 11, 2021

Although backlogged disability claims for veterans have decreased by 10 percent in recent weeks, they will likely only return to pre-2020 levels by late 2022.

According to an article published by Military Times, “[Veterans officials] warned that number could grow again if Congress passes pending legislation granting new disability benefits to tens of thousands of veterans exposed to burn pits while serving overseas in the recent wars. As of this week, about 191,000 disability claims were considered backlogged, meaning they have been pending for four months or more. That’s down from a peak of about 210,000 cases earlier this spring, but still well above the roughly 70,000 backlogged cases in early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic began.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: VA Disability

Author: Wolf & Brown Law Offices





New Disability Benefits Plan Unveiled for Veterans with Toxic Exposure

May 26, 2021

This week, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., released an extensive plan to extend disability benefits to all veterans who are affected by toxic exposure.

According to an article published by Stars and Stripes, “The legislation, titled the Comprehensive and Overdue Support for Troops of War Act of 2021, would create a fast track to Department of Veterans Affairs benefits for veterans who served overseas during the past 31 years and developed a respiratory illness or cancer. It would automatically grant eligibility for VA health care to about 3.5 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In addition, it would reform the VA’s current process of handling claims of toxic exposure.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Disability News

Author: Michael Brown





Thousands of ‘Blue Water’ Navy Claims Reviewed for Retroactive Compensation

May 19, 2021

The VA is reviewing about 60,000 claims from Vietnam War veterans with service-related exposure to Agent Orange. Some of these cases could be eligible for retroactive compensation.

According to an article published by Stripes.com, “These former sailors served aboard ships in the open waters off the coast of Vietnam and have long contended they were exposed to chemical herbicides through the ships’ water systems. The dioxin-laden herbicides have been found to cause respiratory cancers, Parkinson’s disease and heart disease, as well as other conditions. Congress passed legislation in 2019 that entitled these veterans, known as “Blue Water” Navy veterans, to government benefits. The U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California decided in November that the VA must reevaluate claims from veterans who were rejected.”

Relevant pages: Veterans Disability

Categories: Veterans Disability News

Author: Matthew Brown