Veterans Affairs Backlog May Foreshadow Obamacare Provision

Veterans Affairs

It would appear the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ answer to the backlog of VA disability claims is to burden high-performing offices with some of those unanswered claims to help offset the build up.

While the effort to do something — anything — should be applauded, this kind of shuffling off of responsibility to high performing offices like the one in Sioux Falls, South Dakota seems almost like a punishment for efficiency. And, while some legislators have been vocal about the travesty of delaying disability payments to those who defend us abroad, President Obama — if his recent speeches to service men and women are any indication — is more interested in getting buy-in from our military for his policy positions, rather than focusing on what needs to be done to spur the provision of their benefits.

Speaking to servicemen and women and veterans this past week, most recently at Camp Pendleton, the President spent most of his time trying to convince them that a failure to reverse sequester cuts was detrimental to veterans and the actively enlisted, and that this was the fault of Congress and, most especially, House Speaker John Boehner.

Meanwhile, those who have a vested interest in some of the fixes to address the disability claim backlog are asking some rather interesting questions:

Last week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a new policy of providing financial incentives, through the awarding of retroactive benefits, to encourage veterans to file claims through the “Fully Developed Claims” (FDC) process.
On the face of it, this may sound like a worthwhile initiative—we’ll have to wait and see the results.

But the policy raises questions. By the VA’s own estimation, FDC is the “fastest way for veterans to receive a decision on their claims.” That’s quite a selling point—so why do we need additional financial incentives to get veterans to take advantage of that process?

That is an excellent question. If the VA already has the “fastest way” at the ready, and assuming these veterans really want their claims answered, do they need to be incentivized financially to use a new process? Isn’t the answer to their claims incentive enough?

It’s an odd scenario considering that, as a supplement I guess, they are implementing a strategy that kills motivation to achieve in high-performing offices by loading them down with extra work and extra responsibility. A situation that may cause those high-performing offices to be not so high-performing in short-order, and are already causing them worry and dismay.

It would be nice indeed if President Obama spent a little less time blaming Congress for not recognizing the brilliance of his policy plan and started concentrating a little more on the nuts and bolts of fixing an already-existing problem without setting up successful state offices to fail. Because the provision of these services — and the backlog of them — may end up foreshadowing what the country can expect from another high-capacity healthcare initiative: Obamacare.

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