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VFW TESTIFIES ON VA HEALTHCARE AND CLAIMS WORKLOAD

VFW has been hard at work in April testifying on a number of key issues that affect veterans.

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On April 16, VFW Senior Legislative Associate Shane Barker appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee to discuss pending legislation to improve veterans’ healthcare. Barker voiced VFW’s support on the following bills.

  • H.R. 3016—to create accountability within Department of Defense and VA for the Federal Coordination, or FRC, program.
  • H.R. 3245—to improve access to VA and DoD informational databases for Vet Centers.
  • H.R. 3279—to ensure caregivers for service members suffering from severe illnesses have access to VA caregiver program benefits.
  • H.R. 4079—to codify safety standards for homeless veterans’ transitional housing.
  • H.R. 3337—to establish a burn pit registry for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans possibly exposed to toxins from open-air burn pits overseas.
  • H.R. 1460—to automatically enroll service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in VA healthcare. However, VFW asked for the bill to be amended to include mandatory enrollment for non-deployed service members who satisfy the VA’s enrollment requirements.

The VFW opposes H.R. 3723, a bill that would overhaul VA’s fee base system by insisting that the VA enter into contracts with private healthcare providers. VFW is concerned that the VA could not successfully execute the types of contracts necessary to properly anticipate and successfully deliver the kinds of acute care needed by veterans that must utilize the fee-based system.

On April 18, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs hosted a hearing to examine the role of veterans’ representatives throughout the VA disability claims process. Assistant Director for Veterans Benefits Policy Jim Wear testified on key issues.

During his testimony, Wear outlined how the 1,300 service officers accredited by VFW help veterans navigate the complex VA claims process. He also discussed VFW’s relationship with the VA and how it has grown under the direction of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Wear emphasized that VFW believes transparency from the VA will improve future outcomes and reduce the current VA claims workload.

“In order to do our job effectively, we must have access to VA computer systems, records, facilities and personnel,” said Wear. “Without this access, we might as well stand on the curb and shout at regional office buildings.”

View archived webcasts of the hearings:

Veterans Health Bills

VA Claims Process

Read complete testimony.

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