Tags: VA Scandal | Dean Heller | bob casey | va | claims | backlog

Lawmakers: VA Backlog Easing, But Full Review Awaits

By    |   Thursday, 07 May 2015 10:05 AM

Some progress has been made when it comes to the Veterans Administration backlog, two senators co-chairing a VA working group said Thursday, but much more work needs to be done.

"The good news is, in the last two years, we've cut the backlog in half," said Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "But we have to do that again. It's still not anywhere near what these soldiers deserve."

On Wednesday, the group headed by Heller and his co-chair, Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, released a report acknowledging recent efforts by the VA to reduce the backlog in disability and pensions claims but said the progress made wasn't enough.

In their announcement of the report, Heller and Casey called on a wide-scale independent review of the Department of Veterans Affairs for mismanagement and changes to improve budgeting and speed up applications.

Pointing to the VA's worst performers, such as the Philadelphia regional office, they also announced legislation that would require the Government Accountability Office to investigate all 56 regional offices for problems.

"The issue is this: if you're a soldier today or a service member, male or female, and you come back from the Middle East and perhaps you're missing a limb or two or you have psychological problems, should you have to wait two or three years in order to get the benefits that you've earned?" said Heller on the "Morning Joe" program.

"Both of us have said this is outrageous," he added. "So two years ago, we formed this working group, and Bob and I have had some great success so far. The VA is working harder, [and] we've cut the backlog in half. But we have to do that again."

Casey said that the overall question for Congress and the Obama administration is whether they are working to provide services that are worthy of veterans and their families.

"There have been multiple attempts over the last 25 years," said Casey. "This claims backlog problem didn't start five years ago or three years ago; it's more than 20 years."

And while there has been some progress, "we have to demand that the VA measure up just as any organization that serves people must do," Casey said, adding that the proposed bill has bipartisan support for an audit of the VA that will "take a close look at how they deal with claims" while working to reduce the agency's backlog substantially.

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Some progress has been made when it comes to the Veterans Administration backlog, two senators co-chairing a VA working group said Thursday, but much more work needs to be done.
Dean Heller, bob casey, va, claims, backlog
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2015-05-07
Thursday, 07 May 2015 10:05 AM
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