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Process All VA Disability Claims as Approved: Now There’s a Thought

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Larry Scott, of VA Watchdog Dot Org fame (

http://www.vawatchdog.org/

) has once again reported on an idea which on the face of it sounds like one heck of an idea (

http://www.vawatchdog.org/07/nf07/nfMAR07/nf031407-3.htm

). Taking a page from the IRS book, why not process all Veteran and Service-Member disability claims as "approved," and then let claim auditors weed out the frauds; this idea having been recently suggested before congress by Harvard professor Linda Bilmes (

http://ksgfaculty.harvard.edu/linda_bilmes

).

As Background

-- In Iraq, there are 16 injuries for each fatality. That's an unprecedented casualty level. In the Vietnam and Korean wars there were fewer than three people wounded for each fatality. In World Wars I and II, there were less than two.
-- So far, more than 200,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated at VA medical facilities -- three times what the VA projected.
-- The VA has a claims backlog of roughly 600,000.
-- It is projected VA medical centers may treat up to 750,000 more returning Iraq and Afghan war veterans -- 400,000 by the end of 2009 alone.
-- The VA takes between 127 to 177 days to process an initial claim and an average of 657 days to process an appeal. The private sector takes about 89.5 days to process a claim.
-- The VA maintains a veteran's disability system that is complex and applied inconsistently across regional centers. For example, Salt Lake City takes 99 days to process a claim, while Honolulu spends 237 days.

Professor Bilmes Suggestion

To quote Professor Bilmes:


"A better idea would be to stop examining each application and instead automatically accept all disability claims, then audit a sample (like the IRS does for tax filings) to weed out fraud. Or at a minimum, simple claims should be fast-tracked and settled within 60 days. We should also place more counselors and more claims experts... [to] harmonize recordkeeping so veterans can move seamlessly from the Army's payroll into VA hospitals and outpatient care (

http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/ksgnews/Features/opeds/010507_bilmes.html

)."



My Comment

As I initially said, sounds like one heck of an idea to me.

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt