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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Consequences and repercussions

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Files.

* VA’s ability to quickly provide benefits plummets under Obama, by Aaron Glantz at the Center for Investigative Reporting.

And I only mention this article at Huffington (Veterans Often Wait Over A Year For Benefits, Some Wait Up To 642 Days As VA Struggles To Handle Claims) because it has 4,100 and counting comments.

Everyone's got something to say, including me. So, bearing in mind that I'm not an expert in any of this, here are my two thoughts -- one, a suggestion and two, an observation and criticism -- on the situation:

1. Get someone in there from one of our major insurance companies to show the VA how to do this right. Start out with something easy like paper management. From the original article:

They show that while the agency has spent four years and $537 million on a new computer system, 97 percent of all veterans’ claims remain on paper. Since those numbers were tallied by the agency in January, the VA’s two top technology officers have announced their resignations, saying they had accomplished their goals.
On Feb. 27, the agency’s principal deputy undersecretary for benefits also announced he was quitting.
In interviews, workers at five VA offices said they were exhausted by the ever-growing piles of paperwork, with files becoming so thick that employees frequently have asked veterans to resend medical records or military service documents simply because the claims workers could not locate them.
Cindy Indof, who handles appeals at the VA office in Columbia, S.C., said it is not uncommon for her to see the same medical information in a veteran’s claim repeated two or even three times. The growth in paperwork, she said, is compounded by a points system that gives performance bonuses to workers for sending letters to veterans but not for spending extra time reading a claims file.

And from the caption under the first photo:

In August, the VA’s inspector general said the weight of paper files at the agency’s Winston-Salem, N.C., office had compromised the structural integrity of the building.

That is ridiculous! One particular insurance company I deal with at my job scans every scrap of paper that comes into the office. Whether it comes in by mail, hand delivery, fax or whatever, it gets scanned. They have people who do nothing but scan and name and save documents. I don't know what happens to the originals, but with a proper backup system, they can be shredded and disposed of, never to be touched again. Every client has their own file in the system, where the documents are organized for retrieval and viewing by the adjuster or anyone in the company who has access. This is too simple.

2. We went into two major wars without thinking things through. Aside from the whole not having an exit plan thing, this current situation with the Veterans Administration is just one of the problems you get when you don't properly finance your wars. We not only thought we could pay for the wars out of regular revenue, but do it while lowering taxes. And now were left with the after effects. Future generations need to seriously look back on how these wars were handled to make sure none of this happens again.

* Cornbread (NSFW, but worth it).

Posted by Marie at March 16, 2013 10:15 PM