Showing posts with label House Veterans Sub Committee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label House Veterans Sub Committee. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Veterans Affairs officials no specific plans to address the “silver tsunami”

Veterans Affairs' plans for 'silver tsunami' of older patients concern lawmakers

Washington Times
By Madison Hirneisen
March 3, 2020
A February report from the Government Accountability Office suggested the VA is unprepared to address a population increase due to staffing shortages and a geographical misalignment of care. The GAO found an absence in VA health centers in places where veteran populations are dense, causing many senior veterans to rely heavily on their families to care for them later in life.
In this March 27, 2014, file photo, Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Brownley has been voting with the Republican majority in the House to amend or overturn parts of the federal Affordable Care Act. Brownley is one of a handful of Democrats in California who represent congressional districts that are closely divided between Democrats and Republicans, after voters approved an independent redistricting process. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Lawmakers expressed frustration Tuesday at the lack of answers from a panel of senior Veterans Affairs officials on specific plans to address the “silver tsunami” of aging U.S. veterans set to enter the agency’s health system in the coming decade.

Over the next decade, the VA is expecting a 46 percent increase in the number of veterans aged 75 and older enrolling in VA health care. Of the more than 9 million veterans currently enrolled in the VA health care system, half are already 65 and older. The VA estimates spending on health care fore elderly veterans health needs is expected to double in the next two decades.

Despite reports that a blueprint for handling the coming crush was in the works, VA officials declined to speak of any specifics of the strategic plan during a Tuesday hearing before the House Veterans Affairs health subcommittee.
read it here

Saturday, August 30, 2014

DOD and VA still do not play nice with others

May 8, 2007

Interoperable and bidirectional electronic health data sharing with DOD.
This progress includes the development of one way and bidirectional data exchanges to support service members who are separated and retired from active duty service. In addition, the data exchanges support active duty service members and veterans who receive care from both VA and DOD health care facilities. VA's achievements in the area of electronic health data sharing with DOD directly support the efforts to seamlessly transition our service men and women as they move from DOD facilities to VA facilities and Centers of Excellence to continue their care and rehabilitation. Striving to provide world class health care to the wounded warriors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan remains one of VA's top priorities.

In March 2007, VA added a personal touch to seamless transition by creating 100 new Transition Patient Advocates (TPA). They are dedicated to assisting our most severely injured veterans and their families. The TPA's job is to ensure a smooth transition to VA health care facilities throughout the nation and cut through red tape for other VA benefits. Recruitment to fill the TPA positions began in March, and to date VA medical centers have hired 46 TPAs. Interviews are being conducted to fill the remaining 54 positions. Until these positions are filled, each medical center with a vacant TPA position has detailed an employee to perform that function. We believe these new patient advocates will help VA assure that no severely-injured Iraq or Afghanistan veteran falls through the cracks. VA will continue to adapt its health care system to meet the unique medical issues facing our newest generation of combat veterans while locating services closer to their homes. DOD and VA sharing electronic medical records facilitate this process.

It should be noted that sharing electronic medical records between DOD and VA is a longstanding issue, which has been the subject of several GAO reviews. Developing an electronic interface to exchange computable data between disparate systems is a highly complex undertaking. Let me assure the Committee that VA is fully committed to ongoing collaboration with DOD and the development of interoperable electronic health records. While significant and demonstrable progress has been made in our pilots with DOD, work remains to bring this commitment to system-wide fruition. VA is always mindful of the debt our Nation owes to its veterans, and our health care system is designed to fulfill that debt. To that end VA is committed to seeing through the successful development of interoperable electronic health records.

As part of our commitment to being veteran centric, we recently deployed the Veterans Tracking Application (VTA). It brings data from three sources, DOD, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) together for display on one platform creating the beginning of a truly veteran-centric patient tracking record.

Click above to read more of what was
before you read what is now.

Another problem for veterans: VA can’t get medical records from DOD
The Blaze
Pete Kasperowicz
Aug. 29, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General has released a new report saying the VA is having major problems getting medical records from the Department of Defense.

The VA itself has been shown to be a broken agency filled with systemic problems related to delays in getting veterans health care, and attempts to cover up those delays. But the VA’s OIG report indicated at the Defense Department may be contributing to the VA’s inability to deliver care promptly. read more here

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Iowa congressman on VA committee not there half the time

The Gazette fact checked a claim made by the GOP against a Democratic Representative out of Iowa. 

The claim made stated that Representative Bruce Braley missed 74 percent of the hearings. The article went on to point out that Braley is also on a Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. It turned out when they put both duties together, he wasn't there half the time.

We've all seen the VA committees and subcommittee meetings with more empty chairs than interested politicians but with the way things are going most of us think more aren't there half the time and when they are there, the questions they ask seem more like for getting attention for just showing up.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

More "CYA" from Congress on VA scandal

The headline over on Politico reads "House creates VA conference committee" but we're laughing at this one. Why? Because it was the JOB OF THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE TO STAY ON TOP OF ALL OF THIS ALL THESE YEARS!
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ historic legacy is captured in the Committee’s hearing rooms in the Cannon House Office Building, Rooms 334 and 340. The Committee has been formerly known by many names including the Committee on Naval Affairs and the Committee on World War Veterans’ Affairs. After the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, the Committee became formally known as the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Even though the Committee’s name has changed over the years, its mission has remained constant – to represent America’s veterans, their families, and survivors.
History and Jurisdiction
The Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives was authorized by enactment of Public Law 601, 79th Congress, which was entitled "Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946." Section 121(a) of this Act provides: "there shall be elected by the House at the commencement of each Congress the following standing committees": Nineteen Committees are listed and No. 18 quotes: "Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to consist of 27 Members." This Act has since been amended so that there are now 22 Standing Committees in the House of Representatives. The number of Members (Representatives) authorized to serve on each Committee has been changed from time to time. There are currently 29 members of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

The Committee on Veterans' Affairs is the authorizing Committee for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Committee recommends legislation expanding, curtailing, or fine-tuning existing laws relating to veterans' benefits. The Committee also has oversight responsibility, which means monitoring and evaluating the operations of the VA. If the Committee finds the that VA is not administering laws as Congress intended, then it is "corrected" through the hearing process and legislation. We are the voice of Congress for veterans in dealings with the VA.

Jurisdiction of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Clause 1 and clauses 2, 3, and 4 of Rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives establishes the jurisdiction and related functions for each standing committee. Precedent is also used to determine committee jurisdiction.

Clause 1 of Rule X states "all bills, resolutions, and other matters relating to subjects within the jurisdiction of any standing committee as listed in this clause shall (in accordance with and subject to clause 5) be referred to such committees, as follows":

(r) Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
(1) Veterans' measures generally.
(2) Cemeteries of the United States in which veterans of any war or conflict are or may be buried, whether in the United States or abroad, except cemeteries administered by the Secretary of the Interior.
(3) Compensation, vocational rehabilitation, and education of veterans.
(4) Life insurance issued by the Government on account of service in the Armed Forces.
(5) Pensions of all the wars of the United States, general and special.
(6) Readjustment of servicemembers to civil life.
(7) Servicemembers' civil relief.
(8) Veterans' hospitals, medical care, and treatment of veterans.

For more information, please consult the Committee's Rules of Procedure for the 111th Congress.

The Committee has oversight responsibility for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. On a regular basis, the Committee with subcommittees, convenes hearings which examine issues such as: VA compliance with statutory provisions; VA's effectiveness in providing timely benefits and quality heath care; Management practices and efficient expenditure of resources. The Committee's legislative responsibilities cover a wide range of veterans issues. However, veterans and other interested people may be surprised to learn that the Veterans' Affairs Committee does not have legislative jurisdiction over the following issues:

Tax status of veterans benefits and contributions to Veterans Service Organizations (Committee on Ways and Means);
Military retiree issues, including COLA’s and disability pay (Committee on Armed Services);
CHAMPUS and Tri-Care (Committee on Armed Services);
Survivor Benefit Program (Committee on Armed Services);
Veterans Preference in Federal civil service hiring practice (Committee on Government Reform and Oversight);
Congressional charters for veterans service organizations (Committee on Judiciary);
Immigration issues relating to veterans (Committee on Judiciary); and
Issues dealing with Prisoners of War (POWs) and service members missing in action (MIAs) (Committee on Armed Services)

House creates VA conference committee

House and Senate lawmakers moved closer on Wednesday to new reforms to help fix problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical facilities.

The House approved legislation to convene a conference committee on the two VA-focused bills that would allow veterans to seek private care if they waited longer than a “standard” period of time for treatment. The bill would also give VA leadership the ability to fire department officials found to be involved with misconduct or who are under-performing.
read more here
So exactly how did they expect to get away with all that has happened all these years without fixing any of it?

They don't get to use the excuse they didn't know. It was their jobs to know. They don't get to use the excuse no one told them since veterans told them over and over again when they called their offices looking for justice from the guys they elected.

They say people at the VA need to be fired but never seem to mention the fact they were supposed to be on top of all of it!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Veterans: Groundhog Day with Perfect Storm

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 18, 2014

We need to get really honest really fast because frankly veterans have been suffering far too long while politicians play games and reporters, well, they don't seem too interested in reporting facts anymore.

Some want to blame Obama but don't have a clue why. I agree, he does have part of the responsibility on his shoulders simply because he was in the Senate at the time it all went to hell. He was on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee when Nicholson got blamed after he walked into a billion dollar shortfall and two wars going on producing more wounded in need of care.

Over the last few days Wounded Times has been posting some of the videos from CSPAN, like the following. Right now Congress seems so proud of themselves for passing the latest bill for caring for our veterans but not interested in reminding folks they've already been there and done that and there is nothing new in what they just did.

If you only read what people want you to know, you must not be a veteran or hanging around with them since the topic of their conversations is, they are fed up with excuses.

So, here's yet one more reminder of what congress knew and when they knew it.

Senator Kit Bond, Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee said "Felt like we were in Groundhog Day"

Bond then used another movie to describe what was happening to our veterans, "Perfect Storm"
APRIL 6, 2004
Veterans Affairs Budget, Senate Veterans Affairs Subcommittee
Witnesses testified regarding the proposed fiscal year 2005 budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Committee members expressed concern that the proposed budget was insufficient. Among the other issues addressed were waiting times and fees charged for health care, and efficient use of funds.

The first part of the chairman’s opening statement is not included.

Veterans waiting for appointments longer than six months for an appointment from 300,000 to 20,000. Wonder how many died waiting to be seen back then?

233 days to 187 days, for claims.

Principi left a $1 billion shortfall. The VA answer was to charge new fees. Senator Bond said they were not going to balance the books on the backs of veterans.

Storm created by Congress.

The number of veterans served by the VA went from 2.7 to 4.7 million since 1996.

Seeing veterans within 30 days for appointments was at only 48.1%.

Suspended priority 8 veterans from seeking care.

2005 request is inadequate.

By the way, there were a quarter of a million homeless veterans.

Veterans Center waiting lines

Over 2,000 veterans waiting for blind veterans center.

Members were also told they were reducing staff of claims processors by 500. Yes, 500.

Office of budget management was looking at spending $75 million outsourcing study.

Senator Shelby talked about hearing from his constituents about troubles they face.

Funding for research went down by $20 million.

They only anticipated a 4% increase.

Virtual VA project.

Concourent VA and DOD claims.

Everything that has been in the news lately were problems that could have been fixed a long time ago if the people sitting on the 4 Committees overseeing the VA really gave a damn about not just what was happening when they were in the chair, but what happened when others were. Maybe if there were not so many empty chairs during all the hearings covered by CSPAN, our elected officials would have paid attention. Then again, maybe if they were held accountable, no one would be so ready to just pretend they were fixing anything.

We owed our veterans honesty. We owed them accountability. We owed them nothing but the best we could give them in return for the "blank check up to and including" their lives.

See, the issue is not that veterans are suffering. It is "why are they still suffering?" Why after all these hearings do all the same problems still vex them?

We allowed it to happen. We allowed them to get away with pretending they didn't know. We allowed them to pretend to be shocked in public after their offices were bombarded by complaints coming straight from the veterans as most politicians admitted they were hearing from.

We also allowed reporters to pretend none of it really mattered. How did they get away with reporting on the sky falling without investigating on how it cracked in the first place? It was irresponsible for them to not even be curious enough to figure out who or what did the damaged at least allowing someone to come up with the right blend to fix the cracks in the sky.

We're really stupid. We rush to judge what we do not know as much as we are just too lazy learn what the reality is. We make sure we record our favorite shows so we don't miss anything yet we avoid CSPAN like the plague. What the hell is wrong with us?

Sure you know right now I am swearing my head off as I type but that does little good since few have heard the loud screams of our veterans as they beg for help, borrow money to pay the bills they can't pay while waiting for claims to be approved so they can take care of themselves after giving everything they had to give. We thought we did something when we got angry and got on our little Facebook groups and complained in between copying recipes of things we'll never make and looking at the newest picture of a baby we don't even know.

How horrible are we? How much would it have cost us to actually spend some time not just thinking about them but doing something for them in return? Would it take so much effort for you to read something and then leave a comment about what the reporter missed? Would it harm you in anyway to ask them questions you'd like to have answered?

What other bull are you willing to deal with? How much longer will it take before you can figure out that this has in fact been Groundhog Day for our veterans and their families needlessly because Congress saw the "Perfect Storm" coming years ago and put up an umbrella full of holes. Reporters just didn't notice the sky fell through those holes and a lot of veterans suffered because we were too stupid to really care.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Veterans testify VA doctors increased meds without treating problem

Wounded Times tried to warn about this and now, well now that CBS says it, it must be true. OK. What took them so long to figure this out?

Veterans testify VA doctors increased meds without treating problem
By Jim Axelrod, Jennifer Janisch
October 10, 2013

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - A House subcommittee heard testimony Thursday on a problem CBS News exposed last month: Many returning war veterans are overmedicated, with some receiving lethal amounts of pain medication from Veterans Affairs hospitals.

On Capitol Hill, two veterans crippled by debilitating pain described their VA doctors increasing narcotics dosages instead of treating the underlying causes.

"I struggled with years of dependence on opioid therapy that was my only option made available to me for my chronic debilitating back pain," said Justin Minyard.

Minyard, a retired Army special ops interrogator, first hurt his back as a first responder at the Pentagon on 9/11.

"At my worst point, I was taking enough pills daily to treat four terminally ill cancer patients," said Minyard.
read more here

Friday, October 11, 2013

VA Doctors were pressured to prescribe veterans opiates

VA doctors tell House lawmakers of pressure to prescribe veterans opiates
The Center for Investigative Reporting
By Aaron Glantz
Published: October 10, 2013

Department of Veterans Affairs physicians told a House subcommittee Thursday that hospital administrators regularly pressured them to prescribe highly addictive narcotic painkillers to patients, even those they had not personally examined.

The hearing marked the first time VA officials have spoken publicly about the skyrocketing number of painkiller prescriptions since The Center for Investigative Reporting revealed the trend last month.

"There are multiple instances when I have been coerced or even ordered to write for Schedule II narcotics when it was against my medical judgment," said Dr. Pamela Gray, a physician who formerly worked at the VA hospital in Hampton, Va.

Primary care doctors who don't want to prescribe large amounts of opiates may resign, do as they are told or be terminated, Gray said. Gray was fired.

In his testimony before the health subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, the VA's principal deputy undersecretary for health, Dr. Robert Jesse, said the large amounts of opiates prescribed at VA hospitals and clinics are part of a national crisis that extends beyond the agency.

Jesse said that if physicians feel pressured by their superiors to prescribe, that is "absolutely indefensible" and they "should feel absolutely that they can refuse to do that."
read more here

Monday, April 1, 2013

VA Probes $42 Million in Awards Questioned by Congress

VA Probes $42 Million in Awards Questioned by Congress
Bloomberg News
By Kathleen Miller
Apr 1, 2013

U.S. lawmakers await the results of a Department of Veterans Affairs probe into why an agency employee processed more than 1,500 awards just under a monetary threshold that would require public disclosure of the contracts.

The inquiry focuses on a staff member who oversees orders for some VA health facilities in New York and New Jersey and who processed transactions worth more than $42 million over a roughly 18-month period. A letter from a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee said that the purchases ranged in amounts between $24,500 and $24,980.

Transactions of $25,000 and more are generally required to be published on a federal government procurement website to encourage as many bids as possible.

“What is the basis or reasoning for placing multiple transactions with the same vendor on the same day and keeping transactions below $25,000?” asked the Sept. 26, 2012, letter signed by Representative Bill Johnson, the Ohio Republican who at the time served as the chairman of the subcommittee on oversight.

Jo Schuda, a VA spokeswoman, said on March 28 that the department has finished its investigation into the case and is preparing a response that should be delivered this week.

“We are not commenting regarding any actions taken until the response is issued,” Schuda said in an e-mail. She declined to say whether the individual responsible for the transactions faced disciplinary action.
read more here

Sunday, December 16, 2012

House Veterans Sub Committee making some progress

Hudson Hub Times
by Ron Seman
Published: December 16, 2012

We're at those traditionally known times of the year that are often referred to as "slow news days." On the national scene, public officials usually engaged in proposing legislation helpful to veterans are looking forward to the Christmas holidays much as we are. However, there are other unusual matters that are commanding their attention.

Hopefully, the differences that exist among members of the Washington folks will be resolved and we can all look forward to a New Year full of much needed promise and success.

Last week, according to the VFW Washington Weekly newsletter, the House VA Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held an oversight hearing entitled, "Wading through Warehouses of Paper: The Challenges of Transitioning Veterans Records to Paperless Technology." The Subcommittee has had many hearings on the subject of joint claims and has asked witnesses to discuss innovative ways to move the Veterans Benefits Administration into the 21st Century. During the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Jon Runyan (R-NJ) expressed the need for better collaboration between the VA and DoD to aid veterans who are transitioning out of the service. The VFW will continue monitoring the process as we move into the 113th Congress.

Bipartisan Pair of Lawmakers Work to Help Vets: The 112th Congress has been labeled "do nothing" with good reason: it's passed fewer bills than almost any Congress since World War II.

This is according to Ledyard King of the Gannett Washington Bureau.

But amid the partisan gridlock, lawmakers have quietly approved a number of important bills designed to improve life for veterans. And they've come at a time of tight spending when almost nothing passes that isn't fully paid for.
read more here

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

VFW endorsement skips vet subcommittee chief

VFW endorsement skips vet subcommittee chief

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 8, 2008 10:16:32 EDT

The political action committee for Veterans of Foreign Wars has endorsed 212 political candidates running for seats in the House and Senate in November, a fairly politically balanced group of 101 Republicans and 116 Democrats.

But the list is not without controversy: The PAC has endorsed the Republican challenger to Rep. John Hall, a New York Democrat who happens to be chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee on disability assistance.

Hall has worked on legislation to cut the processing time for veterans’ benefits claims and to increase accuracy of claims but has disappointed some veterans by eliminating an advisory council on veterans issues.

Hall, whose congressional district includes parts of Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties, was the chief House sponsor of the Veterans Benefits Modernization Act, which orders the use of technology to process veterans’ disability claims. He is one of 150 lawmakers who received an A+ grade on a congressional report card issued Tuesday by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
click post title for more

They also would not back Tammy Duckworth and look at the kind of work she's done for veterans.

Monday, April 7, 2008

“How Do You Mourn for Someone Who Isn’t Dead?”

National Guard families are falling apart. Who is listening? Congress is but what are they doing about it other than holding more hearings?

Testimony By Stacy Bannerman, M.S. - House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
February 28, 2008
Mental Health Impacts of Iraq War on the Families of Guard/Reserve Veterans.
Stacy Bannerman, M.S., author of “When the War Came Home: The Inside Story of Reservists and the Families They Leave Behind.” (2006) Wife of National Guard soldier/Iraq War veteran, Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge recipient
“How Do You Mourn for Someone Who Isn’t Dead?”

After our loved ones return from deployments that have all the precursors for post-combat mental health issues, (civilian casualties, longer than six months, significant combat exposure, enlisted rank, citizen soldier, loss of unit support post-combat, etc.) we’re given a pamphlet and told to “give it time.” While we’re reading and waiting, we’re losing our veterans, our marriages, and our families. One former spouse said:

This war cost me my family. When my husband returned from Iraq it quickly became apparent he was suffering from PTSD. He became increasingly verbally and mentally abusive to not only my daughter and I, but many of his subordinates at work who either quit or he had fired. He refused to admit he had a problem, and since the military does no mental status follow-up [for Reservists] he hasn’t received any treatment for his condition. As a consequence, my family is destroyed. My son isn’t being raised by his dad and my daughter lost the only father she knew. I know a divorce isn’t as bad as losing my husband to death, but I can honestly say the man I married died in Iraq.

We are also given the option of five free sessions with a civilian provider. Here’s what one Guard wife wrote about that:

When my husband returned from Iraq, we were offered five free “helping” sessions- they were careful to stress that it was not counseling or therapy- after which, we were on our own. In our first session, my husband talked about the nightmares, the sounds that would trigger a flashback or a rush of fear. Our “helper” chose to focus that particular session on….our financial situation. She was a civilian, and was thoroughly unfamiliar with any of the issues facing military families, much less returning vets.

And so, my husband entered private therapy, at a cost of $85.00 a week which we often didn’t have. I was no longer a part of this process. The impact of his deployments on our family was no longer addressed. We were simply supposed to continue on as if nothing had changed. But we had been changed. Rob came back hardened, angry. I was angry myself, bitter and resentful. We both experienced PTSD.

Any reminder of his deployment, such as hearing about a group deploying or returning from Iraq, would send me into sobbing panic attacks. I experience what I called “home-front flashbacks”, sudden overwhelming feelings of isolation, fear, depression, helplessness, triggered by commercials, news stories, or a particular song on the radio. What use were these “helping sessions” when our “helper” had no concept of what life was like for a military family?
go here for more

How many more hearings will it take before they figure out these people, these families need help today, not after more hearings?