The Veterans Affairs Department is requesting $20 million in fiscal 2016 to move its appeals processes from a mix of paper and electronic processes to only electronic. The additional funding is part of VA’s $4.13 billion IT request to Congress.
The Senate is still debating whether it should overhaul current programs at the Veterans Affairs Department that give veterans access to private health care or revise certain pieces of it. At the same time, the VA said it’s close on finalizing a new appeals process, but the committee is concerned the VA’s plan does little to address the current backlog of 450,000 unresolved claims.
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin delivered his diagnosis of the department in a “State of the VA” briefing before reporters Wednesday morning. He outlined 13 areas where the department needs to improve and the legislative and administrative fixes it needs in order to see progress.
The Veterans Affairs Department once again needs congressional authority to transfer funds from one account to another to keep the Veterans Choice Program running for the rest of fiscal 2017. VA Secretary David Shulkin says the issue emphasizes the need to redesign the program, yet Congress has its concerns about the viability of Choice in the near and long term future.
Backlogs provide evidence of Social Security’s crisis as surely as high fever indicates an infection.