Showing posts with label outsourcing VA claims. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outsourcing VA claims. Show all posts

Friday, February 10, 2012

VA accused of excessive outsourcing of vets' jobs

VA accused of excessive outsourcing of vets' jobs
By Alice Lipowicz
Feb 09, 2012
The Veterans Affairs Department is being accused of undermining its own goal of hiring more veterans by expanding its outsourcing practices that eliminate many federal jobs currently, or historically, held by veterans, according to the union representing 205,000 employees at the VA.

In November, President Barack Obama signed into law the “VOW to Hire Heroes Act,” which included language to set up an expedited process for hiring returning solders for federal jobs.

But the VA’s own outsourcing, which began to grow under the Bush Administration and are continuing to expand, are abolishing many federal jobs currently held by veterans, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), an AFL-CIO union, said in a Feb. 8 news release.

For example, the Veterans Benefits Administration recently entered into a $54 million three-year contract with ACS Government Systems to perform claims processing work.

That work currently is being performed by “large numbers of veterans,” the union said. “To add insult to injury, the VBA employees are being asked to volunteer to train the contractors to do their work.”

“Contract claims processors working for profit will now handle the most personal information of our veterans.” AFGE National President John Gage said in the release.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

VA Seeks Temporary Contractor to Help Process Education Claims

VA Seeks Temporary Contractor to Help Process Education Claims

WASHINGTON (Oct. 28, 2009) - On Oct. 21, the Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) issued a solicitation for temporary contractor support to
assist in processing the increased volume of education claims received
since implementing the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.

"This contract will assist VA in delivering education benefits to our
Veterans as quickly as possible," said Under Secretary for Benefits
Patrick W. Dunne. "Veterans are depending on VA to provide the benefits
they earned through their service to our nation. We will do everything
in our power to minimize delays for our Veteran-students."

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, which went into effect on August 1, 2009, has
generated an unprecedented number of new applications. When combined
with the standard high volume of school enrollment claims in August and
September (normally, the busiest months for education claims), the
number of claims has exceeded anticipated levels.

The contractor will provide its own work site and personnel to perform
claims processing tasks. Contract staff will validate enrollment
information provided by schools and provide recommendations on claim
status to VA personnel, who will finalize claims decisions and generate
payments (if applicable).

All work will be reviewed and authorized by VA personnel. VA will
provide training on security and claims processing procedures. The
contract personnel will assist in handling the least complex cases,
which allows for rapid implementation of this initiative.

Information about the Post-9/11 GI Bill, as well as VA's other
educational benefit programs, is available at VA's Web site,
or by calling
1-888-GIBILL-1 (or 1-888-442-4551).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Obama Targets Backlog Of Veterans' Claims

Obama Targets Backlog Of Veterans' Claims

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Obama administration is calling once again on federal employees to submit ideas on improving government services. This time, it is targeting the time and effort it takes to process veterans' disability benefits.

The number of unresolved disability claims has soared this year, prompting protests from veterans groups and members of Congress. The American Legion said in late June that the number was approaching 1 million claims, but Department of Veterans Affairs officials dispute that figure.

Under the plan announced Monday by President Obama, rank-and-file employees with VA's Veterans Benefits Administration will be asked to suggest, through a Web-based computer program, how to reduce the department's backlog. The VBA has about 18,400 employees, most of whom work at its 57 regional offices.
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Obama Targets Backlog Of Veterans Claims

What this didn't say is how we got to this point and it came from outsourcing BEFORE OBAMA

VA OUTSOURCING -- (Senate - September 06, 2007)
[Page: S. 11137]

Sen. Sherrod Brown [D-OH]: I thank the Chair.

Mr. President, the amendment I will be calling up later this morning does not change current law. It simply reminds the Veterans' Administration to abide by current law. All Federal agencies are bound by certain rules when they outsource jobs. While the Department of Defense has its own set of rules, every other Federal agency, including the Veterans' Administration, is required to take the same straightforward steps to ensure that when outsourcing occurs, which sometimes it needs to, it actually improves upon the status quo, not outsourcing for the sake of outsourcing or to feed private contractors but outsourcing to serve taxpayers and, in the case of the VA, veterans better. If any Federal agency should be required to show a good reason before displacing Government workers, it should be

Even if we put that aside, taxpayers are not well served when Government contracts are handed out without regard to the costs or benefits that result. That is one of the many lessons we should have learned from Katrina. It is a lesson we are learning over and over from Iraq. These lessons don't seem to be sinking in with the administration. The VA is firing many of its blue-collar workers and replacing them with private contractors without going through the competition process that Congress has called for again and again. It is bad enough that the VA is moving forward without actually figuring out what is in the best interest of taxpayers. Sometimes outsourcing jobs makes sense. More often than not, as we have found, it doesn't. But that question should be asked before any outsourcing is done in every single case.

Making matters worse, four-fifths of the blue-color jobs targeted for outsourcing were held by veterans. So the Veterans' Administration is outsourcing Government jobs held by veterans to go to private contractors without proving that it is actually saving money. This is more than a paycheck or a path to independence. Sidestepping the rules to eliminate their jobs is bad business and bad policy.

I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

We have seen the worst because contactors out to make money instead of VA employees, doing the job because they love veterans, just didn't care as much.

When I informed, or tried to inform a relative that the VA budget was cut while President Bush was in office and was not increased until 2008, she said I was "Bush bashing" instead of looking at the facts. She said that it was true that there were less doctors and nurses working for the VA with Iraq and Afghanistan going on than there were after the Gulf War. For Heaven's sake! Cut backs came because there were supposed to be less veterans alive needing the VA but no one thought about the numbers added into the system needing care from the VA because of Iraq and Afghanistan. No all of a sudden reports about the backlog are coming out fast and furious instead of them paying attention all along.

Business Editors & Government Writers


New Veterans' Benefits
Throughout history war veterans have received compensation. Roman soldiers were given rewards at the end of their service including cash or land (praemia). Augustus fixed the amount in AD 5 at 3000 denarii and by the time of Caracalla it had risen to 5000 denarii. [1]
..... Click the link for more information. Site "First Step Toward Electronic VA"

The Department of Veterans' Affairs is preparing to unveil a new Web site application developed by Impact Innovations Group that allows veterans to file for benefits online.

The new application, called VONAPPVONAPP Veterans Online Application
..... Click the link for more information. -- an acronym for Veterans On Line Applications system -- will allow U.S. military veterans and service personnel to apply for compensation, pension or vocational rehabilitation Noun 1. vocational rehabilitation - providing training in a specific trade with the aim of gaining employment
rehabilitation - the restoration of someone to a useful place in society benefits online. Hailed by the Department of Veterans' Affairs as the "first step towards an electronic VA," the application gives veterans the ability to securely file applications online, and will eventually extend that option to their dependents
New Veterans Benefits

But this one really explains this best

VA Nominee Pledges Quick Health Reforms

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ret. Army Lt. Gen. James Peake pledged to move quickly to fix gaps in veterans' health care if confirmed as Veterans Affairs secretary, saying urgent action is needed to improve medical record-keeping and pare down the VA's monthslong delay in disability payments.

In a 28-page disclosure obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, the former U.S. Army surgeon general from 2000 to 2004 also denied having "firsthand" knowledge of shoddy outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. And he sought to allay concerns of possible conflicts of interest due to his position as chief medical officer of QTC Management, which has held millions of dollars of contracts with the VA.

"If confirmed, I will terminate any connection with QTC, will have no ongoing or residual financial interest in QTC and will recuse myself in any matters related to QTC," Peake wrote to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Peake, 63, took a leave of absence from QTC without pay after he was nominated by President Bush last month to head the embattled VA.

To alleviate other possible conflicts of interest, Peake also told the Senate committee that he would divest stock holdings in more than 57 companies, many of them major pharmaceutical companies such as Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Bristol Myers, Medtronic, Wyeth and Pfizer, that either currently or might do business with the VA, said a Senate staffer who demanded anonymity because the information had not been made public.

The panel is scheduled to consider Peake's nomination on Wednesday.

The nomination of Peake, a medical doctor who has spent 40 years in military medicine, comes as the administration and Congress struggle to resolve some of the worst problems afflicting wounded warriors, such as boosting care for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and working to pay disability checks on time.

QTC, whose board chairman is former VA Secretary Anthony Principi, provides government-outsourced occupational health, injury and disability examination services. If confirmed by the Senate, Peake would lead the government's second-largest agency with 235,000 employees in the waning months of the Bush administration.

In the questionnaire from the Senate committee, Peake pledged to improve accountability at the VA and to make care of veterans with PTSD "a very high priority" by hiring more mental health workers and boosting access to care for veterans in harder-to-reach rural areas. Stressing his former Pentagon experience, Peake also said he would work to improve coordination and record-keeping between the VA and Pentagon, which hold joint responsibility for providing care to millions of veterans.
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