Casey proposes a solution to VA backlog

Casey: Has three-step plan.
Casey: Has three-step plan.
Posted: May 30, 2014

A PLAN INTRODUCED in the U.S. Senate in March offers solutions to the backlog problem plaguing Veterans Administration hospitals, Sen. Bob Casey said yesterday.

At a news conference at 30th Street Station, Casey discussed a three-step initiative in his proposed 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, more than a month after VA hospitals were found to have long wait times, falsified wait lists and extreme backlogs.

Casey said that the national wait time to file a claim is 244 days, while the average in Philadelphia is 295 days.

"When I found out about the depth of the problem in regard to the backlog, the claims backlog . . . I didn't finger-point, I didn't pontificate, I went to work," said Casey, D-Pa.

The plan aims to improve the claims-submission process by requesting the VA to better provide information to veterans via newer technology, restructuring practices and better connecting federal agencies with the VA.

He said that further action cannot be taken until a formal investigation by the VA Office of Inspector General is completed, which Casey said "could take some time."

"If that means change in the process, if that means they got to hire more people, we should fund that," Casey said. "If that means investing in better technology, we should fund that as well. But the VA has to do its job to move these plans faster and reduce these backlogs."

Joe Eastman, 63, of South Philly, a Navy veteran who accompanied Casey at the news conference, said veterans don't want to wait long for the system to be fixed.

"Veterans don't ask for the world," Eastman said. "All we want is what we earned and what we were promised and not a dime more. The system, however . . . has failed our veterans. I think we're willing to give the VA time to conduct their investigation, but we're not willing to wait forever."

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