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.
Some members of Congress are encouraged by a new solution to overhaul the outdated and lengthy appeals process for veterans. Members of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee introduced new legislation Tuesday that would create three paths for veterans to move more quickly through the appeals process. VA has roughly 470,000 claims pending as of April 1.
Top officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs will meet this week with leaders from several leading veterans’ service organizations, seeking common ground on a legislative proposal that would overhaul the appeals process for veterans’ compensation claims.
Under intense congressional and media pressure, VA has moved aggressively to eliminate its backlog of new claims for disability benefits. But veterans who appeal VA’s decisions are still waiting years, on average.